Antifouling coatings with the “Blue Angel

With immediate effect, the “Blue Angel” eco-label for particularly environmentally friendly products, which has been awarded in Germany since 1978, can also be applied for underwater coatings and other biocide-free anti-fouling systems.

The composite coatings (AM@GO/EP) had larger contact angles and smoother surfaces than the epoxy coating (EP). Image source: Pexels - Pixabay (symbol image).

As early as 2004, the German Federal Environment Agency published a feasibility study for the award of an eco-label for biocide-free antifouling products. At that time, however, such a label met with little interest from industry and manufacturers. In the almost 20 years since then, however, the antifouling market has undergone constant change and development. Various new products and innovative processes for preventing or managing fouling on ship hulls have been developed and established.

Interest in an eco-label for antifouling products has been expressed repeatedly both by manufacturers and by environmental associations and users of antifouling products. As a result, the Federal Environment Agency has launched a second feasibility study in 2019. The aim of this research project (FKZ 3719 65 415 0) was to further develop the criteria for awarding a Blue Angel for antifouling products that had already been developed in 2004. The project is nearing completion and the associated final report is to be published shortly. The aim of the eco-label is to increase the use of effective non-biocidal antifouling methods and consequently minimize the impact of biocides on the environment.

Award criteria decided

The award criteria developed in the project were discussed with interested third parties in the course of two expert hearings and finally decided by the Eco-label Jury in December 2021. The scope of the eco-label exclusively covers products for the hull exterior of ships and boats. The functional principles of the anti-fouling systems available for this area are very diverse and range from non-stick coatings or films to cleanable hard coatings, ultrasonic systems or boat lifting systems. During the development of the criteria, care was taken to ensure that as many systems as possible available on the market were taken into account when awarding the mark. At the same time, it was important to achieve a high degree of uniformity with regard to the award criteria. This was and is one of the major challenges with this extensive and diverse group of products and processes.

Since March 2022, the final award criteria for the DE-UZ 221 eco-label for underwater coatings and other anti-fouling systems have been published on the website under the heading “Certification”. This means that the starting signal has been given. From now on, manufacturers of suitable products can submit applications for Blue Angel certification.

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