Protecting Valuable Assets
The paint and coatings industry has one of the highest concentrations of employment for chemists in the chemical industry and the highest return on investment for shareholders. Government regulations and consumer preferences are driving sustainable manufacturing processes, responsible disposal practices, and impressive reduction in VOC emissions. This provides growing opportunities for environmental chemists, environmental engineers, health and safety specialists, product development chemists, and public policy workers. Paint and coatings consist of three broad categories.
Architectural products make up the largest segment of the market. These are paint products, anti-corrosion coatings, fireproofing coatings, and other materials for use in residential and commercial buildings. Products can be decorative as well as functional, meeting customer needs ranging from large commercial projects to DIY homeowners. New colours and finishes and low-VOC formulations drive demand for new product development in a highly competitive marketplace. All the while our members ensure substantial reductions in low-level VOC emissions and much improved air quality for homeowners.
Industrial coatings are used across all industry sectors including aerospace, automotive, consumer products, OEM manufacturing, shipbuilding, general infrastructure and construction - all helping reduce life-cycle costs. These coatings reduce friction or serve as important adhesives for a multitude of products and purposes. They resist temperature extremes, prevent corrosion, and guard against microbial contamination on medical devices and a multitude of metal finished products. Reflective paints and coatings are required for reflective markers, signs on roadways and airport runways to add safety for workers and travellers. Fabric and wood coatings prevent furniture wear and tear and scratches and scuffs to floors and patios.
Specialty coatings are generally applied "in the field" rather than in the factory. Automotive refinishing and industrial maintenance materials help keep machinery in working condition. Marine paints prevent rust and barnacles on ships thereby reducing drag and leading to significant fuel cost savings from more than 200,000 large ocean-going vessels, while reducing GHG emissions. Traffic marking paints are used for roadway lane markers, parking lot striping paint, and airport surfaces. Graffiti-resistant paints keep urban buildings looking clean. High-tech coatings include cationic electro-coating materials covering complex metal parts to prevent corrosion to help combat a global problem costing the private and public sector a trillion dollars annually. High-performance ceramic coatings increase the lifetime of aircraft turbine engines and automobile engine parts, protecting them against high temperatures, wear and corrosion.
Green chemistry plays a large role in the paint and coatings industry. This involves sustainable and non-polluting manufacturing processes as well as products that have minimal releases of harmful compounds into air and the environment. Post-consumer management involves disposal and recycling of leftover or unused paint and other coating materials. The industry pioneered a cradle-to-cradle approach or what is now called a circular economy approach to paint waste, which is the responsibility of the producer or brand owner, all paid for by the producer. The paint and coatings brand owners have stepped up to the challenges posed by sustainability and Canada now leads the world in post-consumer paint recycling.