This voice-of-the-customer study offers a unique insight to capture global opportunities for coatings and raw material producers and application equipment manufacturers.

To date, only generic and fragmentary data and information have been published on the effects of the European SED (Solvent Emission Directive) and national VOC legislations at the paint applicators' level.

Irfab's new groundbreaking study on VOC emissions from industrial paint application in Europe reveals that significant reduction has successfully been achieved in limited market segments such as automotive OEM, coil coating and metal packaging. Several sectors are either borderline cases or simply, by 2007, won't comply with the SED.

The study is based on hundreds of interviews with paint users in various end-use sectors in the EU-25 that characterizes industrialized West and emerging Central European markets. It is generally observed that several countries have taken considerable effort to reduce VOCs from paint application. Most of them have been successful; however, more needs to be done.

VOC reduction in the coatings industry, in the time span 1990-2003, has amounted to 28%, though it differs greatly from country to country. There are even countries where, in the same time interval, emissions have increased. Transposition of the 2007 SED into national legislations spanned from 2001 to 2004 with related consequences.

The principal ways to reduce VOC emissions have been ‘good manufacturing processes', improved application efficiencies and the ‘paint technology route', especially waterborne, powder, high-solids solventborne, and radiation-curable coatings, or combinations of these technologies (waterborne/radcure, powder/radcure, powder/waterborne). But the penetration of these ‘clean' technologies varies from sector to sector. The only question therefore is WHY?

The answer has been straightforward: quality and cost constraints. In some sectors, such as wood finishes, it is rather difficult to replace solventborne coatings since it simply does not result in the desired finish. In selected sectors, the alternative was to use ‘secondary' solvent-abatement techniques, though not without technical and financial constraints. All in all, there is never an easy solution.

The report indicates the extent of primary (technology) and secondary (abatement) measures on VOC emission reduction by market segment, makes the link between legislations, the VOC emission reduction measurements and paint technology changes, and details the market data and trends by country, by segment and by technology, thus an authentic multi-dimensional study. It also provides an essential base document in understanding the complexity of coatings-related legislation in Europe.

The report confirms the technology trends and the accuracy of the predictions indicated by Irfab since the first studies initiated in the early 1990s and followed by other studies published in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005. It must be pointed out that the paint companies can provide all solutions to comply with the SED.

How will the SED and upcoming REACH affect the technology trends in the period 2007-2012? The anticipated REACH directive will greatly influence the development of new raw materials such as resins, additives (including rheology modifiers, dispersants) etc., and consequently new-technology coatings. The report also provides an overview on the VOC legislation in all main global regions. The report is a valuable tool for CEOs, corporate strategy planners, marketing and research executives of all companies dealing with coatings, raw materials and application equipment, since it gives an insight into current practices and future trends driven by the OEM industry.

The 555-page report, published August 2005, will serve as a powerful document for executing country- or segment-wise strategies in coatings, raw materials and application equipment. With the report, an exhaustive list of official documents and reports is provided in electronic form for easy retrieval.

For more information, e-mail Irfab Chemical Consultants at, or visit