Don’t gloss over it
Everyone is looking for ways to be more environmentally aware in their building methods and choice of materials – yet painting is often overlooked. Jonathan Green looks at some of the recent developments in the sector.
The building industry continues to lead the way with new products and processes with environmental concerns in mind, yet painting is an area that is often disregarded or under-utilised.
The benefits of good environmental practice when painting extend far beyond a little social responsibility. Damage to waterways, unnecessary landfill and a lack of respect to neighbours (let alone the client) are common issues that arise from poor painting practices.
The Master Painters of Australia (MPA) has continued to push good environmental procedures through their training and programs – and when you combine them with some new innovative products in the sector – you are on your way to a happier client and a cleaner environment.
What is an Enviropainter?
An Enviropainter is a registered member of the MPA who has undertaken an accredited training course on sustainable painting practices (2200VIC).
The training course is open to experienced painters and industry qualified representatives. It was developed by Holmesglen TAFE with specialist advice from industry representatives and was funded by Sustainability Victoria.
The accredited training course provides painters with the skills and knowledge in environmentally sustainable painting practices by promoting, developing and maintaining sustainable painting practices and environmental activities.
The training course addresses a range of topics including:
- Sustainable painting practices.
- Work safety for painters (OHS).
- Waste and recycling.
- Identifying best practices and resources for sustainable painting.
- Business relationships and networks.
- Responding to the consumer needs in preparation for work.
- Industry best practice and continuous improvement.
There are a number of companies that supply sustainable products to painters and consumers – some of which you may not be aware of. A fairly new operator in the local market is Eco-Ezee – a company that specialises in the design and manufacture of innovative products made from waste material, by-products from other manufacturing processes or ecologically sustainable sources. The company has won a number of awards for the products that they supply to the painting industry through the firm belief that sustainable products do not have to compromise on price or quality.
Eco-Ezee supplies a range of brushes, rollers, roller trays, and painters’ pots to professionals and consumers alike. Importantly, these award-winning products are made from recycled materials and are fully recyclable.
For example, the Eco-Ezee paint tray is manufactured from recycled waste paper and can still be reused again and again. It has a special design that is preferred by industry professionals as the tray allows them to use less of the roller head to pick up an even covering of paint – allowing them to carry out their work faster and more efficiently. Cleaning the tray is easy too and requires no water, as excess paint can simply be wiped out and the tray left to dry for reuse.
Nigel Fellowes-Freeman is the managing director of Eco-Ezee Australasia Ltd, and says the products have been used extensively in Europe to great success.
“The Ezee Paint Tray is so much more efficient to use than the plastic or metal products currently available in Australia and as it is made from recyclable paper pulp.
“The manufacturing process and product disposal has a far lesser effect on our natural resources and the environment – especially landfill. Professionals are finding it increasingly beneficial to have a sustainable stand point from paint to tools when tendering for projects in an ever more competitive market.’’
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids from a variety of chemicals which may have short or long term health effects. There is a very large range of products that are used in homes and offices that contain VOCs.
Concentration of VOCs can be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. There is a strong focus on VOCs in paint although there are thousands of products that are used that emit VOCs. This emission is referred to as off-gassing. Examples include cleaning supplies, correction fluids, carbonless copy papers, glues and adhesives, pesticides, cosmetics, building materials and furnishings, paints and lacquers, fuel, dry-cleaned clothing, moth repellents and disinfectants to name a few.
The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects can range from highly toxic to little or no effect and will depend on the level of exposure and the length of time exposed. Immediate symptoms that some people have experienced consist of eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and allergic skin reactions.
Eliminating VOCs in the market
The Australian Paint Manufacturing Industry has made a significant commitment and investment in the future for a number of years and now supply a range of products that meet the Green Building Council Green Star VOC minimisation requirements, including heat reflective coatings. The Australian Paint Approval Scheme (APAS) began setting limits for VOC content in 1996 and progressive reductions have been made in consultation with the Australian Paint Manufacturers Federation.
There are a number of acrylic enamels that are available for the painting of interior trims and doors with brushes and rollers that wash out in water. The use of these products helps to reduce the VOCs within the building. If the stripping of timber is required, the MPA suggests an eco-friendly paint stripper. It is important to mask up the floor area to protect the surfaces prior to commencing the cleaning up period and to use protective clothing including face masks.
When it comes to cleaning up at the end of the day there are a number of methods the MPA suggest. To minimise the use of water they recommend that rollers and brushes be cleaned out and wrapped in plastic until the job is completed. Equally, using an environmentally-friendly tray product such as those made by Eco-Ezee can remove this step altogether as the tray be simply wiped out and left to dry.
A large amount of paint is wasted or disposed of incorrectly due the simple fact that people don’t label containers properly. The MPA offers the following tips:
- Keep original labels on containers.
- Label containers with known contents.
- If you are not sure, label the container with ‘unknown contents’.
It is also worth remembering that commercial collection services for left over paint are currently available via yellow pages.
MPA national spokesperson, Mark Amos also notes that each State Association of the MPA has commenced training of painters in Sustainable Painting Practices and this includes apprentices. In Victoria a number of trade teachers have become accredited to deliver training to apprentices in the TAFE system.
Mark says that the correct education of painters in Sustainable Painting Practices is a priority of the MPA and not just a marketing tool.
“The numbers that are coming in for training is very pleasing,” he says. “There are currently record numbers being trained to meet the potential consumer demand.”
He encourages all painters to follow the Four R’s of sustainable painting practices: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove and Dispose. He also suggests that prior to engaging a painting contractor it is recommended to check if they are a member of the industry association and have the knowledge that is required to deliver and follow sustainable painting practices.
If you require information or would like to undertake the training contact your nearest MPA office.
Master Painters Australia