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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recycling Coatings: An Environmental and Business Opportunity

In today’s environmental concerns and how to reduce green house gases (GHG)/carbon imprint, an opportunity exists in the coating business areas and that can appease many. This is through recycling of coatings.

Recycling of coatings is a possibility and a challenge. The challenge comes from the perspective of the formulators and the raw material suppliers. Raw materials deliver the desired coating performance. If the raw materials can be used interchangeably to deliver the required performance, we can have the makings of easier recycling and better manufacturing (batch à continuous) technologies. Certain scenarios exist.

Kelly Moore, a California based coatings company, is producing recycled coatings and selling them under the “e-coat ®” brand. Their coatings must contain a minimum of 50% post consumer waste. This suggests that they have made an effort and succeeded in recycling. Thus, there is a distinct possibility for other coating companies to recycle.

Over the last many years, different methods and applications of surplus coating have been considered with sporadic success. Sustained success is needed to reduce environmental impact of the coatings.

If the government mandates coating recycling through EPA regulations, it would be called meddling in the business. However, the government can assist by creating an incentive program for the companies who recycle. This could be through VOC credits. This presents the best opportunity and any company’s effort in recycling should be awarded.

A joint effort will be needed to establish such VOC credit program. Companies should decide how they develop and incorporate the recycled material in their products. Companies have the knowledge base and the creativity to develop coatings that can have significant recycled material as a part of their formulation. Strategic and interchangeable use of different raw materials is the key for recycling. This would be a win-win.

Girish Malhotra

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