The 2004 directive on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and varnishes could be extended to other products such as hairsprays, window cleaning products and wood coatings, according to an EU consultancy study published in December.
The directive’s review was demanded by EU legislators in 2004. The European Commission will now consider the consultancy’s recommendations and possibly propose legislative changes in 2011, an official told ENDS.
The directive covers paints and varnishes used in buildings and vehicles. German consultants Ökopol recommend extending the rules to seven categories: deoderants, hairspray, solvent-based adhesives, window cleaners, protective coatings, wood coatings and new types of vehicle refinishing.
The consultants also recommend a stricter VOC limit value for solid-based interior decorative paints of 130 grams per liter. They do not call for a stricter limit value for vehicle coatings, citing several reasons. For example VOC emission reductions would be marginal in some cases.
The paints directive was meant to complement a 1999 law setting VOC limits for products used in industrial facilities. But Ökopol highlights overlaps between the two laws, which caused confusion among industry. It proposes options for resolving these problems, and recommends harmonizing thresholds for product exemptions.
The Ökopol study also highlights concerns over unanticipated VOC labelling costs, estimated at €576 million. To reduce costs, industry has requested a one-year extension of the transition period for allowing sales of non-compliant products.
Ökopol recommends harmonizing VOC labelling requirements at an EU level, possibly in line with rules on classification, labelling and packaging. The consultants also propose mandatory labelling for hairsprays and deodorants.
Stricter limits on VOCs in paints and varnishes entered force on January 1. These apply to a range of products including interior glossy walls and ceilings, primers and decorative effect coatings. The commission does not anticipate difficulties in meeting these limits (Source: European Solvents Industry Group).