What happens to a coating or a coated product when its prime application has been completed and it must be disposed of? Is that the end of the line? We talk about ‘cradle to grave’, but can the ‘grave’ in the form of incineration and landfill be avoided? Can coatings be formulated to enhance the recyclability of the substrates that they decorate or protect? In order to be good managers of the world’s resources, a positive response to these questions HAS to be found.
If you deal with information around coatings technology, raw materials and markets every day you read at least once a week something on sustainability. To be honest, some days I am really fed up with this term. Not because I do not think that sustainability is important for the coatings industry. It´s rather because I have the impression that sometimes the term is misused for marketing reasons. Today I came across with the content of the latest issue of the journal Green Chemistry and was surprised that three articles dealt with current developments for biobased coatings. In my opinion, the use of biobased materials could be an important step to more sustainable products. Really interesting stuff!
Recently I generated my first product overview regarding NIR-reflective pigments. Within my research I encountered one major difficulty. It was hardly possible for me to compile a table in which these promising functional pigments are comparable to each other.
Do you remember those times, not too long ago, when European players within the coatings industry stated that even if they established distribution and production capacities in foreign regions, their R&D capacities would indisputably stay at the European headquarter?
I heard about well working coatings with high corrosion resistance and perfect antifouling properties. The next generation coatings also have even less impact on the ocean and may lead to further reduction of fuel. However, there is still a huge gap.
We have yet to see many of the sustainable development ideas available to the Coatings Industry actively commercialised. That may seem a rather harsh statement which does not recognise what may be going on under the surface (sorry for the pun). The Sustainable Innovation Award organised by the British Coatings Federation signals the industry’s progress to date and provides some directions for future action and investment.
I like the audience polls we regularly conduct at the European Coatings Conferences. Who else, if not the coatings experts themselves, could provide a better picture of the industry’s current concerns? I noticed this again at our latest conference on parquet and furniture coatings in Düsseldorf.
It seems to me that functional and multifunctional coatings are on everybody lips since several years. To be honest, I don`t know if this is just a pious hope of the researchers or if these kind of coatings really find their way into the market. While looking for a valid answer I found a lot of research going on and not so many products established in the market.
Tough times - this expression was often linked to the situation of the European coatings industry last year. Even though, coatings producers forecasted 2013 to be a difficult year with a rather pessimistic outlook, it began to fell short of these expectations. The end of the year is showing signs of recovery, which makes the coatings industry quite optimistic for 2014.
My wish for 2014 is that all Coatings Company CEOs will integrate Sustainability into the heart of their business models to ensure that the industry as a whole will be ready to meet the changing demands in downstream markets that growing global population and finite resources will inevitably bring.
‘There is sufficient for the world’s needs, but not for the world’s greed.’ Mahatma Gandhi