How well do you think the current Painting industries are implementing sustainable practice, and do you think we are doing enough?
The painting industry has long focused on improving product quality while minimising environment harm. While huge progress has already been made, there is always more scope to improve and ir’s something Resene is constantly working on. How to make better products with ingredients that have lower environmental impacts, how to produce products more efficiently, how to make products last longer and how to educate our customers to specify and use products to get the best out of them to maximise their life span and minimise application waste.
The role of coatings is to protect and enhance the surface. The better the coatings protect, the longer the substrate can last before replacement. The most important contribution paint companies like Resene can make is to create paints that use low-impact ingredients, yet are as durable and long-lasting as possible.
Resene also has the only paint stewardship programme, Resene PaintWise, which is accredited by the Ministry of the Environment. This has collected in millions of packs of paint that would usually all end up in landfill enabling packaging to be recycled, paint to be used in concrete manufacture to replace virgin materials and paint to be donated to community groups and councils sufficient to paint out over 2 million square metres of graffiti.
How do think it can be improved?
Resene is already highly active in evolving our products and developing with the environment and best performance and this is ongoing.
One of the biggest roles ongoing is working with paint specifiers and purchasers to consider the life of products, not just their initial impact. For example, a higher volume solids product may have a higher initial environmental footprint, but will last much longer, giving a lower environmental footprint over its lifetime. A piece of timber that is left uncoated may initially appear the have the lowest environmental burden, however coated timber will have a much longer life span. Specifying protection for the timber from the outset would mean the paint protects the timber and is over time sacrificed to the weather. However maintaining and rejuvenating the paint is much easier practically and for the environment, than having to replace all the timber. The critical contribution for specifiers is choosing coatings that maximise substrate protection and maximise durability, while minimising environmental harm. This is an area of focus for us.
The other area of concern is greenwashing, companies claiming product attributes that mislead specifier and customers into believing they are making a better environmental decision. There have been two recent examples in New Zealand in the paint category in the last year alone of companies making knowingly false claims.
What is your view on the importance of sustainable practice over the past few years?
Sustainability has changed from being a nice to have to being something that we all expect to be part of the process. However, there isn’t really a consensus on how to measure sustainable practice and or how to know how well it has been applied. This tends to lead to different organisations delving deeply into one measure they ascribe to, rather than viewing things more holistically across multiple measures.