Many large paint and coatings companies as well as SMEs, including CPCA member companies, have sustainability goals and targets and publicly report on them regularly. These goals are put in place for environmental reasons, but they also make good business sense. Efficient use of natural resources, like energy, has been shown to reduce operating costs in most cases. In recent years with the growing importance of product stewardship, now referred to as the circular economy, companies are also doing what they can to reduce the environmental impact of their products and services all along the supply chain. The big challenge going forward is to scale the efforts over time.
Of course, many initiatives are also driven by customer preferences. While paint and coatings products have been regulated in terms of VOC emissions and the like with impressive movement to water-based products for decorative paint – and increasingly for other categories – regulatory pressures continue. Other areas on which companies have focused attention are company programs that reduce fuel use, limit real estate footprints, manage water and wastewater more adroitly, all while ensuring customers get the same product performance. These approaches now drive competition in the marketplace to a large degree. For example, paint and coatings companies develop products that help companies and their customers reduce their environmental footprint, while creating value for the company. These product lines, for example, include:
These and many other products are functional coatings, which help reduce the overall environmental footprint not only for the company, but also for consumers using the products.
Some CPCA member companies have attempted to address the challenges of sustainability and focused on the principle of what gets measured, get’s done. Many now have regular, annual sustainability reporting as an ongoing part of their business planning. They continue to address challenges of integrating sustainability into the long-term business strategy. The focus on sustainability has been incorporated into their internal decisions related to allocating capital. In some cases this includes supporting public policies that address stewardship, which we have seen in Canada with paint recycling programs in every provincial jurisdiction with close to 30 million kilograms recovered in 2017. The focus on recovery of left over paint continues to be a priority even though in some cases it continues to be a moving target as certain governments continue to redefine the way they provide oversight of such programs.
Some of the ways in which paint and coatings companies address the alignment of sustainability with capital allocation decisions include:
Paint and coatings companies, large and small, are doing some or all of the above and taking measures to address their environmental footprint. Consider the environmental initiatives of two strong SME members in Quebec, Laurentide Re-sources and CanLak, and how they are moving the needle on environmental innovation with support for research and investments in new environmental initiatives. Many companies are making concerted efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, to regularly report on the success of those initiatives and their efforts should be recognized and applauded.