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Home  > Editorial archive  > Sustainability: 
An issue for the industry?

Sunday, 23 February 2020
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Editorial archive

Sustainability: 
An issue for the industry?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Publication: European Coatings Journal

Issue: 9/2012

With the world’s population growing, the demand for resources also grows at an unprecedented level. If nothing is done, by 2050 mankind will need 3 planets to feed and sustain itself. Something has to change in how we deal with our resources today if future generations are still to be able to meet the needs of their time.

This heavy burden forms the challenge which makes the world look for options with a lesser environmental impact. This is why every self-respecting supply chain takes an interest in trying to find out where they are when it comes to sustainability. And having established that, companies may focus on how to reduce their environmental impact. Realizing that Paints and Printing Inks are a small factor in comparison for example with the transport industry, CEPE, via its conference in 2010 and with the endorsement of its Board, considered it important to make an assessment of the products the CEPE members bring to market.

One factor that also prompts some of the CEPE sectors to look into the issue is Green Public Procurement. GPP is "a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured" (Communication COM(2008) 400, 16-07-2008) \n It is intended as a tool to stimulate reduction of environmental impact and an incentive for industry to develop green technologies and products. The EU has developed GPP criteria for such products as Office and IT equipment; Construction; Transport; Furniture and others.

<p>A new type of question
requires answers</p>

Another drive may come from direct or indirect customers that want to calculate the environmental impact of the final article they market, for which they need environmental impact data of the components that make up their final article. In many cases paint and printing inks form such component of a final article. As an industry we were used to questions on composition, characteristics of our products and their price. But in determining environmental impact we will have to respond to questions like how much carbon is embedded in our products or how much water is used to make a kilogram of a product. Such information is most commonly declared in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). But besides the environmental costs, we will also have to respond to questions that deal with the benefits of our products, as for example how long such paint protects the substrate. \n In fact in our industry we will move to Life Cycle Thinking, which means becoming knowledgeable about the environmental impacts of the raw materials, the manufacturing processes and the final products. Product improvements in such thinking will come either from using fewer non-renewable resources or from offering functionalities that have the benefit of saving energy (carbon dioxide). \n New formulations with lower environmental costs should not have a detrimental effect on the environmental benefits that come from the applied paint or ink.

<p>Making information available in the different supply chains</p>

In looking at this context for the paint and printing ink business CEPE will play a role as enabler. It will help set up data and provide agreed calculation guidelines. And either through their own calculations or with CEPE assistance for typical formulations, CEPE members will be able to answer the aforementioned questions with confidence. \n A first step will be taken towards this end by setting up a database of life cycle data for raw materials and for the manufacturing processes. Our industry lacks such a consistent database which makes current calculations not always comparable. A consultant will be contracted for this. \n Also the paint and printing ink industry does not yet have a standard that clearly describes the approaches our industry takes in making estimations or coming to typical values. For this project, we will also closely cooperate with associations of suppliers such as resin manufacturers and TiO 2 producers.

<p>CEPE’s intentions in the years to come</p>

In a future stage of the project, when data and methodologies are established, our industry can make EPDs or participate in full Life Cycle Analyses. \n CEPE developed a Sustainability Charter, which describes the industry\'s intentions in the years to come. <p>í</p>

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