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Coors reduces VOC emissions; water-based maintenance coatings perform as required, aid corporate environmental strategy.

A leader in environmental progressiveness, Coors Brewing Company developed the all-aluminum beverage can in 1959 and introduced the country's first aluminum can recycling program the same year. Since 1970, Coors and its sister company, Golden Aluminum have paid out more than $400 million to the public and recycled 2 billion lb of aluminum.

Today, Coors' commitment to the environment goes beyond the commonly perceived issues of clean air or water, extending all the way to the safety of that "environment" in which its workers perform their daily tasks. One area in which Coors has exerted significant effort is in reducing hazards presented to the environment and personnel by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many paint products and maintenance coatings have traditionally been sources of VOC exposure. In concert with their environmental strategy, Coors has implemented a program in which they seek effective maintenance coatings that will assist in keeping VOC emissions to a minimum.

Steve Rice, Maintenance Planner for Container Operations, was given special recognition for his efforts to specify coatings with lower VOC emissions and to spearhead the effort that has resulted in a company-wide evaluation of these products. In December, 1990, he was awarded the Coors Environmental Achievement Award for his contributions.

Implementing Strategy

Coors Brewing Company in Golden operates the world's largest single-site brewery and is number three among brewers in the U.S. Coors maintains container manufacturing facilities that produce four billion aluminum cans and 800 million bottles annually. It was in these facilities that trials of water-based maintenance coatings were initiated by Steve Rice and Facilities Maintenance Supervisor, Dave Bullock.

"We are, and have been committed to reducing the amount of VOCs in the paint and coatings we use at Coors," said Rice. "However, some water-based coatings that we had tried did not hold up as well as the alkyds we had been using."

A reduction in VOC's, while important, was not the only factor Bullock and Rice would consider when specifying coatings for projects at Coors. Their list of additional requirements included:

* Low odor to allow employees to work in their areas and maintain production schedules so shutdowns are not required during painting.

* Versatility to be applied to various substrates.

* Excellent long-term performance characteristics and the durability to withstand some extreme conditions.

* Easy to apply, eliminating the need for additional training of proper application methods.

* A large selection of colors and an ability to be tinted to match existing color.

* A supplier with the required inventory of products and the ability to supply product when it is needed.

The first trial project involved repainting some 40 exterior metal doors, including overhead, pedestrian, and truck dock doors, at the 173,000-sq-ft facility where nearly 2 1/2 million glass bottles are produced each day.

Recommended for the job was a direct-to-metal (DTM) acrylic gloss coating, a VOC-compliant product promoted as giving the performance qualities of conventional solvent-based systems. It is a water-borne, high-gloss, protective maintenance coating designed for light to moderate industrial exposure. Its adhesion properties allow the coating to be applied directly over properly prepared iron, steel, aluminum, galvanized, and concrete surfaces. It provides excellent corrosion, chemical, and early moisture resistance.

After this first test, the coating was specified for the Coors Container Operations end line facility, which produces some 6.3 million aluminum container "ends" or "tops" each day.

This project involved coatings for interior and exterior concrete block walls, steel overhead doors, fire escape stairs and railings, and galvanized and aluminum roof ducts and transformer covers.

"The coating requirements at the end plant were unique and more challenging than the coatings' first project," said Rice. "For example, we needed a coating with the durability and adhesion properties to handle the aluminum and stainless HVAC and electrical equipment on the roof, which we were painting for aesthetics, to blend with the exterior of the building.

"We also had interior and exterior concrete walls, giving us a cementious substrate with its own unique problems and coatings requirements." said Rice. "The coating for the exterior needed to resist fading from harmful ultra-violet rays from the sun and withstand other potential damage caused by the elements. Interior coatings needed to hold up against abrasions from constant traffic. Finally, we needed a coating that was available in OSHA safety colors for designated areas."

The DTM acrylic gloss coating was brush and roller applied directly to interior surfaces and a two-coat application was made to exterior surfaces.

Now that both trials were successfully completed, DTM acrylic gloss is being used in Coors' regular maintenance painting plan in several other areas of Container Operations. The product has been used on interior concrete block walls, metal stairs, and exterior storage tanks at the container facility. According to Rice, some 2,000 lb of VOCs have been saved by switching to water-reducible products.

Shortly after their decision to use water-based coatings at the end plant, Bullock and Rice presented a proposal to Coors Paint Committee recommending the new VOC-compliant coatings over the alkyd coating for other divisions of the company. The committee is in the process of evaluating coatings and making a final decision on the proposed replacement.

According to Rice, "One of the strongest factors contributing to our success with water-based coatings is the reduction of VOC emissions. At Container Operations alone, we estimate our reduction in VOCs could be as much as 10,000 lb per year, and 20,000 lb company-wide if we replaced our alkyds with water-reducible coatings."

Direct-To-Metal acrylic gloss coatings and other VOC-compliant products, Sherwin-Williams Co., P.O. Box 6520, Cleveland, OH 44101.
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Title Annotation:Coors Brewing Co., volatile organic compounds
Author:Eilers, James R.
Publication:Food Processing
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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