Latin America Reports

International Report

January 17, 2007


REACH: What does it mean?

With the final approval of REACH legislation on the horizon, the coatings industry is facing new challenges.

By Sean Milmo
European Correspondent

The European coatings sector is complaining about the growing burden of legislation, most of it European Union regulations, which it is having to comply with.

In fact, in some countries the industry is feeling so overwhelmed by new rules that it wants government measures to help ease the burden or at least make regulations more business friendly.

The cries for help come at a time when EU legislators are giving final approval to  REACH to enable the scheme to come into force in June 2007.

REACH, which stands for the registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals, will cover approximately 30,000 substances which are produced or imported in Europe by companies in annual quantities of one metric ton or more.

The objective of the scheme is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the gathering of safety data on chemicals and through the replacement of the most dangerous substances with suitable safer alternatives when they are available.

In addition to REACH, the coatings industry is having to cope with major pieces of legislation on biocides and the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“All these new regulations are putting up the industry’s total costs, especially because in some cases they are necessitating or will require the reformulation of products,” said Jacques Warnon, technical director of the European Council of the Paint, Printing Ink and Artists’ Colours Industry (Cepe).

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) lists in its current legislative timetable 28 separate regulatory changes, which are already planned to come into force in the UK between the autumn of 2006 and 2013.

In addition to REACH and amendments to the EU’s biocides regulation, it includes laws on chemicals labellings and additional rules on solvent emissions.

“British coatings manufacturers are working flat out to understand, assimilate and put into action all the requirements of the legislation that is already in the process of being implemented,” said Moira McMillan, the BCF’s CEO.

“Some of this legislation directly affects end-users and consumers, who also need to be made aware of the changes that are in the pipeline, what they mean and how they will affect the products they purchase,” she added.

BCF has recently been taking part in a joint government-industry initiative in the UK to find ways of reducing the cost of implementing legislation on health, safety and the environment (HSE) without reducing the effectiveness of the regulations.

The additional costs stemming from the introduction of the REACH scheme will come mainly from the expense of collecting safety data for the registration of chemicals. This includes not only information on the physical characteristics of substances but also on their uses. Therefore, REACH will mean extra costs for manufacturers of coatings ingredients, of the coatings themselves and for downstream users of the products.

Not surprisingly, because of the large number and variety of chemicals in its products, the coatings industry is one of the sectors most deeply affected by the REACH legislation. It will also, as a result, have a big impact on its major customers.

“Roughly 1,000 different paint and coatings products are applied on a passenger aircraft and each of those products contains up to 50 different components,” said Werner Wenning, president of the German chemical industry association (VCI) and chairman of Bayer, a leading manufacturer of polyurethane coating materials.

The amounts of data required for the registration of substances under REACH vary according to the output of the chemicals. The lower the volume the less safety data is needed, which should make registration cheaper for specialty chemicals producers, most of them small and medium size companies (SMEs), than for the large bulk chemical companies.

The VCI estimates that with chemicals with an annual output in the 1-10 ton range, registration costs per substance will be as high as €50,000. In the 10-100 ton band it will be as much as €350,000, in the 100-1,000 ton band €450,000 and above 1,000 tons as much as €1.2 million.

“We estimate that REACH will cost the European chemical industry at least €4 billion over the next 11 years, of which €2 billion will be testing and registration costs,” Wenning told a VCI press conference in Germany in December. “Furthermore, €2 billion will have to be spent on the substitution of proven and thoroughly tested substances that will have to be withdrawn from the market due to high registration costs. This does not even include adaptation costs and resulting sales losses for our customers along the supply chains.”

Substitutions triggered by REACH could prove to be more costly than current estimates—especially for coatings manufacturers, due to the expense of reformulations. In order to gain approval of the REACH legislation, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, representing the governments of EU member states, concluded a comprise deal in late 2006, which meant that hazardous chemicals will be authorized only if a safer alternative is not available.

Cepe estimates that, as a result, several hundred substances used by the coatings and ink sector may be substituted. Replacements for existing chemicals could start to be introduced within the next few years.

Overall, REACH will lead to an increase in the amount of testing done by coatings and ingredients producers and downstream customers. New formulations caused by substitutions of chemicals will have to be tested while substances will have to be tested to accumulate safety data for registration of the chemicals themselves and their uses.

However, the tests needed for compliance with the REACH rules may not be so onerous as those required for the authorization of coatings and other products containing biocides. The authorization procedure is laid down by the EU’s biocides products directive (BPD), which has been incorporated into the statute books of the EU’s 25 member states.

Coatings manufactures will over the next few years be carrying out tests and drawing up dossiers on products with biocides, such as anti-fouling and wood coatings.

“The testing and gathering of data on biocides will be more difficult for the industry than what will be required with REACH because the same amount of testing will be needed whatever the volume of the products or the degree of potential danger,” said Warnon.

North America

Concrete Colorants Advance Construction Design

A look at some of the latest trends in the growing area of colored concrete.

By Charles W. Thurston
Coatings World Correspondent

Colored concrete has become a mainstream trend in commercial and residential design, with applications moving up from floors and countertops to vertical walls and even to ceilings, according to industry sources. “Decorative concrete projects are going on every day, with clients including big box companies and retail chains, because people have become exhilarated that something as durable as concrete can be colored,” said Victor Pachade, manager, Smart Surface Technology, Cleveland, OH. Corporate clients for the company’s Colormaker Floor brand decorative concrete now include such majors as Best Buy, Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

Smart Surface Technology blends and manufactures decorative concrete mixes for clients on the Eastern seaboard in Cleveland, while the headquarters facility in Richmond, British Columbia, manufactures for West coast clients. The company also has clients in a host of countries, including Antigua, Australia, China, India, Israel, Mexico and Sweden.

The demand for decorative concrete mixes for Smart Surface Technology is running at approximately 15,000-20,000 square feet per week, Pachade estimated. Apart from manufacturing and designing, the company also trains installers.

“Basic concrete finishers typically can’t do decorative work, so we train them in our unique system,” Pachade said. “Over the past three years, we’ve trained 400-500 companies, each with multiple installers.”

Among colorant suppliers to his company, Bayer and Elementis Specialties are key sources. “Cementitious toppings can be dyed, stained or mixed with pigments to impart color,” Pachade said. “In new construction, concrete can be colored with an integral mix, but that has a limitation of only one color. So more decorative artwork, including graphics and logos, require toppings.”

“There is a trend of going into VOC-compliant colors, but coloring existing concrete may require more intense solvent-based colorants,” he continued. “But if a topping or overlay is used, then all the colorants can be water-based.”

A variety of finishes and sealants also are utilized to protect the concrete surface.   

“Among colorants, iron oxide pigments are very much in demand for wet concrete, with approximately 50% of all applications using integral color,” Pachade said. “The other half of the market is in dried concrete, with approximately 30% of all jobs using dyes and approximately 20% using stains.”

The volume of colorant by weight in a concrete slurry may typically be only about five percent, and in top coating mixes, color is not more than three or four percent by weight, Pachade estimated. Colorant costs typically range between $1.50-2.00 per square foot, but installers working with multiple colors are charging $9.00-15.00 per square foot for labor.

Commercial decorative concrete jobs also often require the use of professional color consultants to help create and implement a design. “The trend in colored concrete as a  floor installation, be it residential or commercial, is becoming one of an extended color palette, with richer, earthier tones replacing the pastel grays,” said Cathy Richardson, an art associate for The Concretist, Benicia, CA, whose clients include organic food chain Whole Foods. “I see a growing interest for integrating personal statement within the realm of image and/or color.”

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