Going Green with Painting and Coatings

April 1, 2009

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The search for better ways to use green products, methods and technology leads facility managers to painting strategies that not only consider the welfare of the environment and incurs lesser costs, but at the same time still maintain high quality paint performance. 

Some of these paints and coatings practices are the application of a second coating that not only requires little surface preparation, but guarantees longer life to the building and stronger protection against daily wear-and-tear. Another is proper paint storage and disposal to extend usefulness of paint for future projects. Another is the careful measurement of the area to be painted so that only the right amount of paint will be purchased, eliminating the cost of extra and unused paint. Lastly, there is the use of recycled paint as a greener option. 

Recycled Paint

Recycled paint offers cost-saving opportunities and lesser dangers to the environment while still providing quality finish to buildings. Any water-based and latex paint can be recycled. For latex paints, recycling is done either through re-blending or reprocessing. 

Re-blending involves re-mixing the paint and screening to eradicate any solid materials to improve consistency. Only neutral-colored paint and coatings can be re-blended, hence they are more appropriate to projects such as undercoating, graffiti removal, or exterior painting — where aesthetics is not an issue. 

Reprocessing includes the addition of new components to the recycled paint, making the paint available in more tints and a wider range of applications. 

For recycled paint sources, facility managers often turn to paint and coatings dealers who have passed certifications standards. The Master Painters Institute offers certification programs to recycled paint manufacturers. 

Benefits of Recycled Paints

Some of the major benefits of using recycled paint and coatings are lesser hazards and zero waste disposals that lessen the danger to the environment. Another benefit is lesser costs due mainly to lower expenses, zero waste disposal costs, and lower transportation costs (because recycled paint is produced locally). 

A performance and price comparison of recycled and non-recycled paints confirmed the economic and environmental viability of the former. The case of the Portland Water Bureau who used 100% recycled paint to re-paint their water tanks resulted to 75% lesser costs and generated cost-savings of $3,500 for the project. 

Challenges in Adoption of Recycled Paints

One of the main problems in the adoption of recycled paint and coatings is the linkage gap between recyclers and users. To strengthen this link, the Internet has been used as a medium to bring recyclers and their markets together. Governments like the state of Michigan also sponsor an online directory listing for recycled materials. 

To market recycled paints and coatings further, the EPA allied with environmental agencies and conducted a performance comparison of recycled paints and ordinary paints. The results for recycled paint were generally positive, such as its good performance in metal surface applications, user satisfaction and willingness to reuse, strength and resistance to various environment conditions, and cost benefits. Minor constraints such as wood surface non-adherence and color match problems were encountered. 

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