British Coatings Federation launches new Trace VOC Globe to recognise extremely low VOC paint products

13 May 2022

From May 2022, decorative paints manufacturers will be able to adopt the use of the statement ‘TRACE’ Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) as part of the British Coatings Federation (BCF)’s VOC Globe scheme to improve communication to consumers highlighting which products have the lowest levels of VOCs. The TRACE globe will be used for products with VOC content of less than 0.1%.

Paints contain different levels of solvents, also known as VOCs. Solvent content can vary from negligible amounts to, in a very small number of products, very high levels. Given that VOCs contribute to atmospheric pollution, the industry is committed to reducing the level of solvent in paints. Decorative paint manufacturers have significantly reduced the presence of VOCs in their products over the last two decades, with 84% of decorative paints now sold on the market being water-based, and therefore low or very low VOC.

The VOC Globe scheme is part of a wider initiative by the coatings industry to raise consumer awareness of the amount of VOCs contained in decorative paint products, allowing consumers to make more informed, and hopefully greener choices. Greater involvement from paint manufacturers in the scheme will also greatly help paint recyclers separate solvent-based and water-based leftover paint with ease, which aids reuse and recycling.

The British Coatings Federation takes the position that the use of the terms ‘Zero-VOC’ and ‘VOC-free’ are false claims and should not be used in the paint industry. There will always be a trace element of VOCs, even if no raw materials containing VOCs have been added. Even water can contain trace amounts of VOC, supply chains for the manufacture of paint are often complex and VOCs, even at negligible amounts, can also be introduced during any part of the process, through using raw materials that naturally contain VOCs, to processes that introduce VOCs, such as washing raw materials. It is impossible to ensure that every batch of paint is completely free of VOCs because of the potential for trace solvents to be introduced at any point throughout the supply chain.

The VOC Globe scheme is owned, managed and copyrighted by the British Coatings Federation. To coincide with the addition of the TRACE globe, the artwork for all the other ratings has also been updated.

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