Paint standards to get make-over

Press Release – Environmental Choice New Zealand

One of the most familiar faces of the New Zealand ecolabel, Environmental Choice, is about to change. For two decades, paint tins have been perhaps the most recognised medium for the planet-and-tick symbol, and in meeting the labels demanding specifications, …Paint standards to get make-over

One of the most familiar faces of the New Zealand ecolabel, Environmental Choice, is about to change. For two decades, paint tins have been perhaps the most recognised medium for the planet-and-tick symbol, and in meeting the label’s demanding specifications, our paint industry has become a world leader in reducing the product’s impact on people and planet.

The government-owned but independent ecolabel has announced its intention to raise the bar for carrying the seal, despite the expectation that not all manufacturers will be able to meet the newer, tougher standards. That, says Environmental Choice general manager Robin Taylor, is the way the ecolabel programme drives continuous improvement, with better environmental and health outcomes for New Zealanders. “The great majority of paint brands made and marketed here, and also exported, now have products displaying our seal. Part of our mandate is to motivate manufacturers to keep offering the consumer environmentally better products, so now we are encouraging the paint industry to “go one better” yet again.”

The ecolabel has called for submissions, as industry participation is essential in the voluntary process which can carry huge competitive rewards at the paint counter. “Colmar Brunton tell us that three out of five purchasing decisions are influenced positively when buyers see and recognise the Environmental Choice label, so paint manufacturers have a lot to gain or retain by rising to the challenge of this upcoming revision. There is a total of 25 million litres of paint sold annually in New Zealand alone, and ECNZ-labelled paint is prescribed for some of the world’s most prestigious hotel names in Europe. There will likely be market share changes if some brands are unable to keep the seal on the paint pot.”

A number of paint components have the potential to cause harm to human reproduction, promote cancer, contribute to global warming and poison the environment, but the use of only paint products with the ECNZ seal alleviates such risks, as the use of harmful ingredients is strictly controlled and monitored as a condition of the ecolabel.

It is proposed to significantly tighten the rules relating to volatile organic compounds, especially in interior paints. This largely reflects recent improvements already advanced by the New Zealand industry and with Australia would make it a world leader (among Global Ecolabelling Network members) in limiting VOCs.

Nanotechnology, already in use in the paint industry, is included in the issues for discussion in the upgraded specification, as is the pigmentation in some white paints especially. The label is also seeking comment on its continuing exclusion of anti-fouling paints and the use of PVC in packaging.

Existing licensees (the companies whose products have passed assessment) will have a year to bring their paints up to the new standard. Meantime, says Robin Taylor, comment is encouraged by consumers, trade professionals and manufacturers who can download the proposed specification from the Environmental Choice website.

/ends/ 19 February, 2013
ENDS

www.environmentalchoice.org.nz

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