BRUSSELS — CEPE, the European Council of the Paint, Printing Ink and Artists’ Colours Industry, has proposed a “harmonized” plan for control of VOCs in decorative (architectural) coatings in European Union countries. The proposal has been submitted to the European Commission, which is considering the results of a study on the issue carried out by a consortium of consultants hired by the commission.

In a statement on its proposal, CEPE said it “supports VOC reduction and advocates a harmonized EU Directive to avoid competitive distortions within Europe.” The CEPE proposal calls for a two-phase VOC-reduction program over a period of about 10 years, allowing paint manufacturers and users a reasonable amount of time to adapt to the new regulation. The organization estimates that the proposal will deliver total VOC reductions of more than 40% from paint products alone, with additional reductions in the use of solvents for clean-up and other associated purposes potentially pushing the reductions well above 50%.

The CEPE proposal would set VOC-content limits for 10 categories of coatings types, with separate limits specified for solvent- and waterborne products. In addition, two additional limits are proposed for waterborne interior wall and ceiling paints, depending on gloss level. The proposed VOC limits would become effective in two phases, although no specific dates are included in the plan. In the first phase, the proposed limits range from a low of 75 grams per liter (g/L) for low-gloss waterborne interior coatings and waterborne exterior coatings for masonry, brick or stucco to a high of 750 g/L for solventborne specialty substrate-binding primers.