In a bid to reduce VOC emissions, Chinese box manufacturers have agreed for the switch to waterborne paints. This is a change from the long-established solvent-based coatings that have been prevalent up until recently.
Environmental regulations have threatened heavy penalties unless manufacturers and paint suppliers adhere to these guidelines by 1 July 2016 in South China, and 1 April 2017 in the rest of the country.
The China Container Industry Association (CCIA) - the association of CIMC, Singamas, CXIC and Dong Fang International - has driven the change, after consultation with the Chinese government and under the advice of environmental bodies.An encouraging aspect of this switch is the support from the paint suppliers themselves. A number of prominent organisations are committed to support these objectives, including Baojun, Chugoku Marine Paints, COSCO Kansai, Dowill, Hempel, Jointas, KCC, and Mega.
The huge majority of shipping container manufacturing occurs in China; a figure that's currently at an astonishing 95%. As has been widely reported in the media, pollution in this part of the world is an issue that must be tackled, and experts are attempting to reduce the contribution to this pollution from container production. This initiative is an important step.
However, the cost of manufacturing with waterborne paint is higher, and therefore a united approach is required to ensure that all parties can commit to the initiative with minimal negative impact.
Some wholesale changes are needed in factories, with improvements to air circulation and air exchange required, in addition to some enhancements of the production line. Experts suggest that for older smaller factories, the amendments could prove to be too much to bear. Unfortunately, some may have to shut their doors if they cannot assist the industry in meeting its new environmental commitments. However, some have already made the switch and are ready to commence production according to these guidelines.
A flagbearer for waterborne coatings is Maersk. Back in 2013, the shipping giant converted its dry box factory in the Guangdong province city of Dongguan into one that uses waterborne paints. After some initial teething problems, the company was able to apply waterborne paints to the same efficiency as it had solvent paints. This remains a positive case study for the wider industry.
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