While the marketplace seems very interested in “green” coatings, including paints and stains, the drivers for such coatings are still in quite a state of flux, according to Duke Rao, director of polymers, at Sherwin-Williams
. Rao was a featured speaker at a recent Emerging Technology Forum presented by PolymerOhio in Columbus. “Terms like ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ have a lot to do with what’s good for the environment, what’s good for society, and they must also include the ability to be profitable for the company that makes a commitment to offering green or sustainable products,” Rao said. Thus, green coatings exclude chemicals that are toxic or otherwise harmful.
“Three main drivers seem to be impacting the development of green coatings,” said Rao. “They are compliance, necessity, and market demands.” “Compliance is coming from everywhere; necessity relates to costs, especially raw materials costs; and the marketplace is looking for transparency and accountability while seeking low-to-no volatile organic compound (VOC) content,” he said. “And the west coast (US) is driving the most stringent regulations.” Drivers for green standards include such items as building project certifications (like LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and coatings product certifications. "Innovative technologies can drive the technology to market – either as savings in energy and utility savings for customer’s unmet need,” Rao explained.
Sherwin Williams bases its green materials strategy on using sustainable raw materials, like soy and sunflower oil in our paints. The company has reduced the amount of solvent in its formulations to make more environmentally friendly products. To get there, the company has also instituted new techniques in its manufacturing processes to help produce less waste and more energy efficiency in its plants and streamlined its national distribution processes, helping to conserve fuel, energy, and other natural resources.
Rao says that his company is rolling out greener and more sustainable products and technologies in many emerging markets, including interior house paints; water-bonded materials with less odor and lower VOCs (including odor-absorbing paints for kitchens); and marine coatings. To achieve a zero VOC product, Sherwin Williams continues to explore water-based chemistries. Another sustainable option is the pursuit of soybean oil as a coatings ingredient. “As far as trends are concerned, green technology will come from various technologies; we need to have new formulations,” Rao stated. “Of course, one interest is replacing petroleum-based materials.”
Rao also reported on another Sherwin Williams effort – to use recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polymer for paint containers. “We could not do it with one chemistry,” Rao said. “We used PE, acrylic, and oil to get all the characteristics we wanted. It involved a chemical reaction, conversion, and grafting with acrylic functionalities to convert into an anionic prepolymer, which was dispersed in water (water matrix). But the good result is a material that has a shelf life of at least three years.”
Sherwin Williams has also moved forward rapidly on its EcoVision™ initiative, which is a company-wide commitment and a corporate-wide shared vision to look for and implement decisions and actions that reduce its impact on the environment.
As part of this initiative, Sherwin Williams is focusing on socially and personally responsible ways to develop new products and processes that are innovative, and reduce the environmental impact throughout the life cycle of their use. There is also an accountability element aimed at making continuous improvement, reporting progress, and making legitimate claims about green or sustainable products and processes.
Founded in 1866, The Sherwin-Williams Company is a global leader in the manufacture, development, distribution, and sale of coatings and related products to professional, industrial, commercial, and retail customers. The company manufactures products under well-known brands such as Sherwin-Williams®, Dutch Boy®, Krylon®, Minwax®, Thompson’s® Water Seal®, and many more. With global headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, Sherwin-Williams® branded products are sold exclusively through a chain of more than 3,500 company-operated stores and facilities, while the company’s other brands are sold through leading mass merchandisers, home centers, independent paint dealers, hardware stores, automotive retailers, and industrial distributors. The Sherwin-Williams Global Finishes Group distributes a wide range of products in more than 70 countries around the world.
PolymerOhio, Inc. is a polymer industry-specific Ohio Edison Technology Center, which is funded by the Ohio Department of Development. PolymerOhio focuses on enhancing the global competitiveness of the polymer industry, including companies from the plastics, rubber, bioproducts, and advanced materials segments. For more information, polymerohio.org