Victor Leal
President
Paint and Ink Manufacturers National Association
/
Expert Contributor

Carbon Footprint: A Major Sustainability Indicator

By Víctor Leal | Fri, 10/30/2020 - 13:00

The carbon footprint plays an important role not only because it acts as a quantification of environmental impact and climate protection, but also given that it is used as an indicator to measure the efficient use of raw materials and the energy spent on the production of different items.

A number of businesses around the world have set themselves ambitious targets to reduce their emission and, consequently, their carbon footprint. This is not only through the development of innovative solutions, technology and energy management, but also across the creation of more value with fewer resources, the search for partnerships with suppliers and clients, the alignment of their corporate strategies and the cornerstone of their company's sustainability.

Consumers today are more aware of the importance of caring for the environment, which is why they have chosen in recent years to buy products made with ethical and responsible manufacturing processes, forcing many manufacturers to rethink operating systems, modify processes and leave their comfort zone to embrace change.

This has a great effect on the reputation of the companies, since it shows that the manufacturer is analyzing the problem and strives to reduce the carbon impact of its operations, and it also affects the interest of the final consumer in buying the products. 
More and more manufacturers are reporting the carbon footprint of their key products and, in many cases, the favorable results are largely due to new technologies, which generates a virtuous circle throughout the process, especially since this translates into higher performance items. If applied to corrosion, the benefits of using a paint system that offers long-term durability can reduce the carbon impact of the structure to which the coating is applied.

Calculating a company's carbon footprint takes time, in principle because it requires careful observation of operations over a period of time (but years, more than anything) in order to accurately know and calculate the energy, water and waste that was used in each type of paint, ink or coating; however, the results will undoubtedly be a great achievement for companies.
The Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) reflects a product's greenhouse gas emissions in carbon dioxide equivalents over its life cycle. This involves everything from the exploitation of raw materials (usually obtained through mining) to the production process and use phase, to recycling and disposal. 

There are several manuals that can help you through this , such as the document “Carbon footprint of the product for beginners. Guidance for Small Businesses on How to Approach the Carbon Footprint Challenge”, produced by the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to name one example.
Some of the actions companies can take on their way to sustainability may include a portfolio of sustainable products, others made from recyclable material, product packaging from circular economy processes, and paints that are free of heavy metals and low in VOC content.

According to the "DSM Carbon Footprint Study for Industrial Coatings Applied to a Metal Substrate. Focus on Powder Coatings" by Dutch-based global company DSM, powder coatings can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, because if all the solvent-based coatings in metal applications that can currently be applied were replaced by powder coatings, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) avoided would be equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 9.5 million cars, approximately 2.9 million car trips around the world or the average annual carbon footprint of 1.5 million people in Eastern Europe. 

These data are revealing and demonstrate that changes bring results that impact on multiple levels. Fortunately, there are already many brands in the market that also consider Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), so they have developed high-quality brands at reasonable prices. 

Photo by:   Victor Leal