Coatings World: Please provide a little background on the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and its campaign to eliminate the use of lead in paint?
Thomas: The objective of the UN Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP) is to promote a phase-out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead and thus eliminate the risks that such paints pose.
Link to site : http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Home/tabid/197/hazardoussubstances/LeadCadmium/PrioritiesforAction/GAELP/tabid/6176/Default.aspx
CW: Obviously, it is a health issue, but what was the reason AkzoNobel decided to be the first major paint company to eliminate lead compounds in its paints?
Thomas: At AkzoNobel we are committed to reducing our impact on the planet and delivering more sustainable solutions to our customers. We consider product stewardship to be a key element of sustainability and that it is critical to ensure our products and processes do not pose a danger to people or the environment.
Given pigments and driers that do not contain lead are now widely available, there is no need or justification to intentionally add lead compounds to paint.
CW: In what ways is AkzoNobel lobbying trade associations to stop the use of lead in all paint compounds?
Thomas: AkzoNobel has written to all the trade associations of which it is a member asking to discuss the prospects for a voluntary industry agreement to phase-out the use of lead. Letters have been written to the International Paint and Printing Ink Association (IPPIC) and the coatings associations representing UK, Europe, and US.
We therefore ask if you will support us in a proposal to discuss a voluntary industry agreement to stop the use of lead compounds in all paint products at the International Paint and Printing Ink Association (IPPIC).
CW: When can we realistically expect to see the elimination of lead products in paints become widespread?
Thomas: It is hard to say when this might happen but we are actively supporting the objectives of the UN Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP). We know that the European Union is already on track to ban all lead compounds from June 2015, after it was labeled as a “substance of very high concern” under the REACH chemical regulations.
CW: What is the ultimate goal for AkzoNobel's initiative?
Thomas: To show leadership in our industry in sustainability and promote the elimination of the manufacture and sale of paints that have had lead compounds added to them.