Ecopainting Ltd. talks about the development, practices and benefits of environmentally friendly painting!
Remember the smell of paint? Most of us do. We often associated it with cleanliness and renewal; however, that smell of fresh paint was actually once extremely toxic. It was bad for painters, customers and definitely the environment. Solvents, hardeners, dryers and other resins were once essential ingredients for a good quality paint. These ingredients, called V.O.C. (Volatile Organic Compounds), included known carcinogens such as Formaldehyde, Benzene, Ammonia and often Acetone. They can cause eye, throat and skin irritation as well as headaches, nausea and breathing problems. Additionally, VOCs are harmful to the environment because they react with sunlight and other pollution to contribute to smog, which damages Earth’s ozone layer.
During the last 15 years there has been a growing awareness about environmental issues. Being “green” has culted a trendy following and most of us are now set on reducing our ecological footprint. This has affected the purchasing decisions of consumers, which paint manufacturers recognized a number of years ago when they started producing “low VOC” paints. In 1991, Glidden came out with their “Lifemaster” line, followed by Benjamin Moore’s “Pristine Eco-spec” line in 1999. These paints were seen as a positive start for the industry, which led many more manufacturers to quickly join the bandwagon. However, these “low VOC” paints were lacking in quality and durability. Looking back on how these products were marketed, it’s safe to assume that their purpose was to address government regulations that were created to deal with the atmospheric effects of VOCs rather than to address concerns of human health.
Some manufacturers saw this ecological trend as a nuisance, while others sensed a marketing opportunity. Regardless, paint manufactures began investing heavily into developing Zero VOC coatings. Benjamin Moore’s patented Gennex waterborne colorant system was the first breakthrough. Consumers could now have any colour without compromise (darker tints previously contained high levels of VOCs). Additionally, their “color lock” technology made paints more washable even in lower sheens. In 2009, Benjamin Moore’s first waterborne alkyd paint was invented (Oil paint, washable with water). Today, more paint companies are using waterborne colourants and manufacture waterborne enamels due to their quality and durability. A major benefit for contractors and consumers was the trickle down of the technology, which led to less expensive coatings.
Today, Zero VOC paints are used in condominium buildings, even new housing developments. As contractors, we paint where people live and work so we ensure our customers don’t have to compromise their lifestyle during renovations. Low pollution paint and coatings make the renovation process easier for everyone involved. Ultimately, Zero VOC paints are durable, a wise financial choice and, as far as decorating goes, provide an endless array of colours and design options.
Following the same market trends, painting contractors jumped on the same “green” bandwagon. It’s commonplace now for painting companies to promote themselves as “green” and ecofriendly. This can only be seen as a welcomed development for our industry; however, what often isn’t recognized is that there is more to being an environmentally responsible company than just the type of paint being used. Contractors should implement full environmental procedures.
The following is a list of the procedures we at Ecopainting Inc. use and encourage other painting companies to adopt:
- We prefer using top line Zero VOC coatings because their durability allows for frequent wash cycles and requires less frequent re-paints.
- Zero VOC paints are not harmful but the lack of odour can produce a false sense of security. When spraying, our painters wear protective equipment and respirators – ventilation practices are always observed.
- We never dispose of wash water on lawns or waterways. We also practice water usage reduction when washing.
- We follow municipal regulations when throwing out empty paint cans. Please note, there are collection depots throughout the GTA for leftover paint.
- Where possible, we minimize job site plastic and always recycle.
- We strive to constantly improve the logistics and transportation of paints and equipment.
- We use smaller and more efficient crew vehicles.
- We educate painters and the community on eco-friendly painting.