Contemplation under the environmental storm: Is water-based paint environmentally friendly

With the country’s emphasis on environmental protection and the continuous introduction of relevant environmental protection policies, the coatings industry has experienced the most stringent environmental protection law in history. It is forbidden to use oil-based coatings and promote the use of water-based coatings. At this point, the development of oil-based coatings is difficult, and water-based coatings are in full swing. Whether it is a business or a terminal consumer, when it comes to environmental protection, it must be water-based. The coatings industry seems to have entered a misunderstanding that waterborne coatings must be environmentally friendly.


In the environmental storm that keeps the paint industry in the blink of an eye, let us calm down and think about it, water-based paints must be environmentally friendly paints?
First of all, let’s review a common question, what is environmentally friendly paint? What is waterborne paint?
We all know that the so-called environmentally friendly coatings, except for the raw materials used in the formulation, are non-toxic and harmless, and are non-toxic and non-polluting in the manufacturing process.
Waterborne coatings are generally defined as coatings in which the volatiles in the formulation are mostly water. In other words, any coating that uses water as a solvent or as a dispersion medium can be referred to as an aqueous coating.
The biggest feature of water-based environmentally friendly coatings is that water replaces organic solvents as solvents or dispersoids, which is also the main reason for its environmental protection. However, it should be noted that water-based paints are not simply water-based paints that replace solvents in oil-based paints. If direct water can be used as a substitute, companies have long used water to make paint. Due to the difference in solubility, volatility and surface tension of water and organic solvents such as benzene, toluene and ethyl acetate, the waterborne coating is more complex in composition than the solvent type.


Although waterborne coatings are water-based, they are by no means free of organic solvents. Generally, the water-based paint needs to contain a wetting agent, a dispersing agent, an antifoaming agent, a thickener, a film forming aid, a preservative, a mildew-proof algicide, and a drier. For film-forming auxiliaries, for water-based coatings, most latex paints now contain a film-forming auxiliaries, and their presence directly affects the quality of the film. However, film-forming auxiliaries are organic solvents that have an impact on people and the environment. For example, if the water-based paint uses a preservative such as Troysan 174, Troysan 186, Nuosept 95, Ecocide BA, then it cannot be called an environmentally friendly coating. Because these preservatives are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, formalin is known as a preservative, while formalin is a 35%-40% aqueous solution of formaldehyde. The preservative mechanism of these preservatives is achieved by releasing formaldehyde. Antiseptic effect. Liu Xin, technical manager of Jotun Coatings (Zhangjiagang) Co., Ltd., said that the main purpose of the new paint consumption tax is to promote the application of low VOC coatings. However, the VOC content of some water-based paints on the market is not low, so water-based paints are not necessarily environmentally friendly.
In addition, as early as last year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to add nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) to the list of toxic chemicals and require their use in compliance with US “emergency plans and communities”. Reporting requirements of Section 313 of the Right to Information Act (EPCRA). NPEs are nonionic surfactants used in adhesives, wetting agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, dispersants, defoamers, detergents, paints and coatings. In waterborne coatings, NPE can act as an emulsifier, disperse and wetting. With the craze of waterborne coatings, the market demand is large. The EPA proposal also warns the paint industry that the development of waterborne coatings must also focus on environmental protection.
Waterborne coatings emit a large amount of wastewater containing various additives during production and use. In addition to the potential threat of NPE, they may also contain substances such as alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEO) that cause serious environmental and biological hazards. Without paying attention to this issue, the waterborne coatings industry will likely become the next serious hidden danger.


At the same time, in the context of the hot water-based paints, a considerable number of companies are only playing with the concept, and speeding up the development of new products and new technologies as a slogan, and not very good implementation. It is understood that under the strong temptation of low input, high output, and large market, some enterprises avoid lightness and give up the essential aspects of resin core technology and coating demand. The technology is not advanced enough and the quality is not fully met. Next, we produce water-based paint products and rush into the market. In addition to companies, some dealers are also opportunistic. Most of these distributors are laymen who don’t know much about water-based paints or know little about the solvent-based products. Like paint companies with speculative attitudes, they also take an irresponsible attitude towards the market and consumers. They only hope to make a fortune with the “healthy, environmentally friendly” fashion selling point of water-based paint. The “water-based paint” that sells dog meat in this way is even more environmentally friendly. Liu Jie, director of the Industrial Development Department of the China National Coatings Industry Association, has given consumers an important reminder: not all water-based paints are environmentally friendly. Some merchants may also claim that they are using water-based paints by the current hot trend. It’s easy to use water-based paint, and it’s hard to say if it can meet environmental standards.
From this, we can see that not all water-based paints are environmentally friendly, and it is not easy to rudely equate water-based paints with environmentally friendly paints. Water-based paint is not the only standard for judging environmentally-friendly paints. Whether it is water-based paint or oil-based paint, it is environmentally-friendly and reliable paint products as long as it has passed relevant national environmental certifications, such as China Environmental Label Certification.
Water-based environmentally friendly coatings are characterized by advanced technology, clean process, low energy consumption, low emissions, environmental protection and safety. In the era of environmental protection storms, the development of environmentally friendly coatings is an inevitable choice for enterprises; environmentally friendly waterborne coatings represent environmental protection. Safety and health are the goals pursued by the development of the coatings industry. However, the advancement of technology requires a process. Environmentally-friendly water-based coatings require a large amount of research and development, which requires not only the transformation of the original coating line, but also the production process. Before coatings researchers completely solve the water-based product technology, the coatings industry and consumers should rationally locate solvent-based products, clearly distinguish water-based coatings, and avoid the misunderstanding of “water-based coatings, ie environmentally-friendly coatings”.