Industry News

EPA 2004 Sector Strategies Performance Report Favorably Profiles Strides made by Paint and Coatings Industry, Cites NPCA’s Partnership, and Coatings Care Program®

Published on 2004-10-20. Author : SpecialChem

Washington, D.C. -- The recently published U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2004 Sector Strategies Performance Report favorably profiles the environmental strides made by the paint and coatings industry, as part of the agency's Sector Strategies Program, which the National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA) participates in on behalf of the industry. The report cites the paint and coatings industry's significant environmental progress in reducing air emissions, among other improvements, and highlights NPCA's Coatings Care® Program as a case study for effective environmental management systems (EMS).

The report, which assembles available environmental performance information on the 12 sectors that participate in the program, states that "sectors are significant for their contributions to the nation's economy as well as their environmental and energy footprint." The Sector Strategies Program is part of the National Center for Environmental Innovation at EPA. The program works collaboratively with 12 sectors - nine of which are manufacturing industries - to improve environmental performance while reducing regulatory burden. The report also identifies environmental opportunities that it says "can serve as a tool for strategic planning and evaluation of future progress."

Specifically, the study optimistically reports that the paint and coatings industry has dramatically reduced releases of chemicals monitored through EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) over the past decade. According the report, between 1993 and 2001, normalized TRI releases by paint and coatings facilities decreased by 50 percent. Most of these releases were to air. In 2001, close to 50 percent of the sector's TRI waste was managed through recycling. The report notes that current levels of recycling across the sector are already "substantial," and as such, EPA believes additional opportunities may exist for further increases.

Moreover, the report states that volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutants (HAP) resulting from the production and use of paint and coatings "have decreased steadily in recent years." EPA estimates that the normalized quantity of VOC emissions resulting from the manufacture of paint and coatings declined by 12 percent between 1996 and 2001. The normalized quantity of HAP releases, as reported to TRI, declined by 56 percent between 1993 and 2001.

EPA cites environmental regulations, changing consumer preferences, and voluntary industry efforts as all contributing to these decreases that are likely to continue. In terms of measurable results, the report finds that, because of these factors:

  • Environmentally preferable water-based paint has increased from approximately 35 percent to over 80 percent of architectural coating sales, over the past few decades, taking market share away from oil-based paint.
  • Markets for industrial and special purpose coatings have undergone transformation as customers have demanded, and manufacturers have introduced a wide variety of more environmentally benign coating products.
  • Improvements have been made in the way that paint and coating products are manufactured, handled, and applied.

Additionally, the report positively mentions that the paint and coatings sector has reduced or eliminated a number of harmful constituents, such as lead and mercury, from most of its products. It also is hopeful that, environmental benefits could be achieved by substituting greater amounts of leftover paint for virgin raw materials in the production of new paint and coating products.

EPA's report also focuses on the beneficial role of NPCA's comprehensive environmental, health and safety program, Coatings Care®, as an effective EMS tool for performance improvement. In fact, this landmark program, in addition to NCPA and industry's history of environmental commitment, was the motivation for EPA's invitation in May 2003 to become a partner in the Sector Strategies Program. NPCA also has an established relationship with EPA as one of its early network partners in the agency's National Environmental Performance Track Program, which provides incentives and benefits for industries demonstrating a voluntary commitment to going beyond compliance requirements in their environmental performance.

In 2004, the Sector Strategies Program and NPCA will jointly explore opportunities for building on Coatings Care®, as well as utilizing EPA's national environmental databases and other publicly available data, to establish a comprehensive performance
measurement program for the paint and coatings sector.

The 2004 Sector Strategies Performance Report is available online along with more information on EPA's Sector Strategies Program.

NPCA is a voluntary, nonprofit trade association representing some 350 paint and coatings manufacturers, raw materials suppliers and distributors. As the preeminent organization representing the paint and coatings industry in the U.S., NPCA's primary role is to serve as ally and advocate of legislative, regulatory and judicial issues at the federal, state and local levels.

Source: National Paint & Coatings Association (NPCA)

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