LONDON - The British Coatings Federation (BCF) has launched a major campaign to ensure solvent-based basecoats in vehicle repairs are used in a compliant way. Although the VOC Paint Product Directive has been in place for over 10 years, there is widespread abuse of the directive, with an estimated 30% of basecoats sold in the UK for car repair still being solvent based. 

The BCF has recently written to all vehicle refinish (VR) distributors outlining the details of the campaign, which includes a poster to help explain the difference between solvent- and water-based basecoats, and when they should be used. The letter also outlined a mystery shopping exercise where one in four VR distributors will be visited in the next 12 months to gather evidence of non-compliance in the sector.

The campaign is backed by the major national distributors who attended a joint meeting with paint manufacturers in January to discuss this initiative. The UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also supports the work of the BCF to tackle this issue and are keen to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The ultimate aim of the campaign is for Trading Standards Officers in local authorities, the regulators responsible for the directive, to be able to confidently inspect distributors and identify the sale of non-compliant VR paint.

Tom Bowtell, BCF’s CEO, said, “Body shops across the UK have invested heavily in water-based equipment and compliant technology, as have the paint manufacturers and law abiding distributors. It is not fair that they are financially disadvantaged by this widespread abuse of the regulations. We are determined to assist the authorities in enforcing the regulations and for non-compliant distributors to be prosecuted as a consequence of their actions.”  

BCF’s website will be kept updated at