TODAY: Paint to come with a dose of green

According to the Singapore Environmental Council (SEC), more than 600 paint and coating products now bear the SEC’s Green Label. Also, most of the 14 members in the Singapore Paint Manufacturers Association have Green Label-certified products. The article is in full below.


TODAY: Paint to come with a dose of green

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans’ penchant for upgrading and pride in their homes have propelled them to the top ranks of paint consumers in the world.

The republic uses an average of 47kg of paint per capita – among the highest in the world, according to research firm IRL’s profile of the Asia-Pacific paint industry published last June. It is expected to use 307,200 tonnes of paint by 2014, up 40 per cent from 2009.

And in tandem with growth, paint manufacturers are paying an increasing amount of attention to their environmental credentials.

More than 600 paint and coating products now bear the Singapore Environment Council’s Green Label, according to SEC’s website. And most of the 14 members in the Singapore Paint Manufacturers Association have Green Label-certified their products, said association president James Lim.

And technology like creating paint that keeps buildings cooler is one of the ways companies are attempting to improve their impact on the environment as paint consumption grows.

Paint manufacturers can expect double-digit growth this year on the back of economic growth in the Asia-Pacific, according to Frost and Sullivan.

The paint and coating industry relies heavily on the end-use industries it serves – the construction, steel, marine, automotive and furniture sectors, in particular, it noted in an industry review last year.

Singapore is considered a mature market within South-east Asia, said Mr Jeremy Rowe, AkzoNobel’s managing director of decorative paints in South-east Asia and the Pacific. AkzoNobel is the Dutch parent company of Dulux paints.

Growth in Singapore is driven by the development of new infrastructure, and how often people re-paint their homes, said Mr Rowe. In the rest of South-east Asia, rapid economic development is fuelling growth. In Vietnam, for instance, many people are owning homes for the first time, he said.

About 60 per cent of AkzoNobel’s decorative paint revenue from Singapore is from individual consumers, while the rest is from projects like upgrading of precincts, he said.

For Nippon Paint, retail sales and projects contribute equally to revenue. Local households tend to paint more during the holidays, and on occasions like Hari Raya Puasa and the Lunar New Year, said Mr Charlie Ong, general manager, Nippon Paint (Singapore).

To improve its environmental standards, AkzoNobel is targeting for 30 per cent of its global revenue to come from products that demonstrate greater eco-efficiency than those of its competitors, up from 20 per cent currently, said Mr Rowe.

Paints have in the past come under scrutiny for their lead content but now the industry’s efforts are geared towards further lowering volatile organic compound (VOC) levels, said industry players. VOC are chemical compounds that can affect human and environmental health. Water-based paints – now widely used – have far lower VOC levels than solvent-based paints.

Frost and Sullivan’s report last year cited low VOCs, the shift to water-based paints and more eco-friendly coatings as key industry trends.

Also coming into the market in the past two years are exterior paints that reflect heat and lower the temperatures of building surfaces, resulting in less energy needed to cool building interiors.

Both Dulux and Nippon have launched such reflective paints that claim to keep buildings five degrees Celsius cooler.

According to AkzoNobel’s tests for its Dulux WeatherShield Keep Cool paint, a 15-storey building could cut energy consumption by 10 per cent.

Going forward, consumers can look forward to paint doing much more than brightening the walls of their homes. Mr Rowe said technology is improving on paint with self-cleaning properties – that keep building exteriors cleaner for longer – and trials are being done in Europe on pollution-busting paints that could convert carbon-dioxide molecules to less harmful substances.

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