The Influence of Paint Quality on the Environmental Footprint of Architectural Coatings

How paints with highly treated grades of TiO₂ can have lower cradle-to-grave carbon footprints

Coatings provide both protection and aesthetic appeal.  Just a thin layer of paint can extend the useful life of everyday objects and thus avoid the environmental burden that would come with an early replacement.  Consequently, the sustainability of coatings should be assessed over the entire product life cycle to adequately capture the impact of coatings performance in a given application.

Coatings are formulated products, i.e.  they are made from a blend of ingredients such as resins, pigments, fillers and additives.  Choosing the right ingredients are essential to achieving the desired product specifications in commonly used performance metrics such as opacity, hiding power, washability, scrub resistance, and others.  With their embedded environmental footprint, ingredients also influence the environmental impact profile of coatings.  Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) forms a solid basis for holistic formulation choices, where ingredients are not judged in isolation, but in consideration of their impact on the performance throughout the life cycle of the ultimate article.

This means that in order to assess the environmental impact of an architectural wall coating one needs to assess not only the environmental impact of the raw materials needed to  make the paint, but also how much paint is required to cover the wall and how long it will take before the owner will decide to repaint the wall as this will imply a new production of paint and use of raw materials. Being the white pigment of choice, TiO plays a crucial role in the properties of architectural coatings, hence the ecological footprint. In this paper we are comparing the use of a commonly used ‘universal’ grade, like the Ti-Pure™ R-902+ pigment to the performance of the Ti-Pure™ TS-6300 pigment (a so called highly treated grade).