Architects memo no.
66: May 2001
keen to stay green
Imagine if you will (or can!) using a vermilion paint coloured
by pigments made from a mercury compound to paint your bathroom, or
perhaps choosing a green paint containing arsenic to finish the fence
painting. Both scenarios are ridiculous to contemplate today, yet were
commonplace less than a century ago.
Paint manufacturing has certainly come a long way since then (thank
goodness!), with toxic substances such as mercury, arsenic and more
recently, lead, no longer acceptable ingredients in the paint chemist's
repertoire. These restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg. Recent
attention has focused on the effect of volatile organic compound (VOC)
emissions on our environment. It is estimated that 4% of the ozone depleting
substances in the urban United States are a direct result of VOC emissions
from surface coatings, including mainly standard household paints.
Paints are manufactured using a wide range of organic and inorganic
materials. They can contain components that can impact adversely on
the environment at different stages of the product's life cycle releasing
solvents and toxic substances during production, application, the service
life of the coating and disposal.
In response to growing concerns over VOC emissions, the Environmental
Choice programme focuses on the need to reduce these emissions. Solventborne
paints release significantly more VOCs per litre than waterborne paints,
spurring Resene chemists to develop waterborne replacements for solventborne
products. Trim, joinery and wet areas have traditionally been no-go
areas for waterborne paints due to a tendency to soften under prolonged
exposure to moisture and poor block resistance (the ability of a paint
to not stick to itself when two painted surfaces come into contact).
Resene's introduction of the first waterborne enamels in 1996 - Resene
Enamacryl and Resene Lustacryl - was a breakthrough offering a viable
alternative to solventborne products. And customers clearly agree -
just five years on, Resene Enamacryl and Resene Lustacryl outsell their
Resene is well-known for its role in introducing waterborne paint
to the New Zealand market in the 1950s - and for its groundbreaking
move to remove lead from its decorative paint products in the 1970s.
Joining the Environmental Choice Programme in 1996 was another logical
step, reaffirming our commitment to the environment.
Environmental Choice New Zealand is a programme endorsed by the Minister
for the Environment. It is aimed at improving the quality of the environment
by minimising the adverse environmental impacts generated by the production,
distribution, use and disposal of products.
Joining the Environmental Choice programme also gave Resene the impetus
to solve a common headache for customers caused by strong smelling paint.
The solution came in two parts: Resene chemists removed virtually all
odorous material from Resene Zylone Sheen, Resene Zylone 20 and Resene
Ceiling Paint, giving users high quality products without strong smelling
solvent odours. The end result? Users could paint interior areas and
put the area back into service the following day, rather than waiting
for days for the strong smelling odours to disappear. The incidence
of headaches, asthma, nausea, respiratory complaints, allergic reactions
can also be easily reduced by simply choosing to use a low odour paint.
The second part of the solution was to introduce waterborne products
that could be used in place of solventborne products, such as Resene
Enamacryl and Resene Lustacryl.
Improved working environments lead to improved concentration levels
and a greater feeling of well-being for users, as well as placing less
stress on the body's natural defences. Compliance to the heavy metal
requirements of the Environmental Choice Programme, as practised by
Resene for over 25 years, also avoids possible poisoning of people,
animals, food chains and environment.
The Environmental Choice Programme requires proof of the product in
use in real situations prior to certification being awarded, which means
that all new products will be available for sale before Environmental
Choice approval is processed to cover the in-use requirements. Two examples
of products currently undergoing this process are Resene SpaceCote and
Resene AquaShield. Both meet the requirements for the Environmental
Choice Programme but must prove themselves in use before the certification
will be awarded. This in-use requirement is the reason new products
released without certification can become Environmental Choice approved
after 12-18 months.
Just as our customers call New Zealand home, so do we. Therefore it
is central to our way of operating that we continuously strive to reduce
the adverse effects of paint on the environment. Choose to specify and
use Environmental Choice products wherever you can and help Resene keep
New Zealand green. Look for the EC logo on our product data sheets and
paint containers - it is confirmation that the product meets the requirements
of the Environmental Choice Programme.
For further information on the Environmental Choice Programme, check
out the Resene Environmental Choice brochure online
(you will need Acrobat
Reader), or order a copy of the Resene Environmental Choice brochure
online, or call
0800 RESENE and order a copy of the Resene Environmental Choice brochure
or visit the Environmental Choice website www.enviro-choice.org.nz.