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British Coatings Federation.

As the Coatings Industry continues to push its way through economic woes, the importance of creating a level playing field, both in the UK and globally, increases to grow. Here, Tony Mash, CEO of the British Coatings Federation looks at one area of the industry where a level playing field would be beneficial.


Whilst the UK voluntarily removed lead pigments from consumer paints many years ago, there is currently an ongoing campaign by the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to ban the use of lead in industrial paints due to health hazards. The primary reason lead paints have continued to be used in the industrial sector is their ability to create good opacity and durability in paint, plus their relative low cost compared to other pigments has also been an important factor.

Those UK paint manufacturers who have, for many years, also been moving away from using lead pigments in industrial paints have replaced them with the large range of alternative products now available on the market. The challenge for them is to deliver the same quality performance at no extra cost to the customer. This places the industry in a difficult position as a complete move to lead-free could see a surge in imports of lead paints to satisfy applicator demand for lower cost materials.

The result would be increased pressure and unmatchable competition from other global sources who are feeding this product in at a much cheaper cost than UK manufacturers can afford to sell at. This type of scenario can only be avoided, and a level playing field created, by the implementation of global restrictions on the use of lead based-paints, and so we come full circle back to the current UN and WHO campaign, which the BCF fully supports. Specifically in Europe this drive will be helped by REACH, which has already identified lead pigments as substances of very high concern.

If the endeavours of the above organisations are successful and legislation is brought in to create a blanket ban on the use of lead-based paint, the coatings industry on a global level will have no choice but to adhere, therefore creating a level playing field for everyone.

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Date:May 1, 2012
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