Sustainability is a practice that many industries have taken part in, in many ways. For some industries, they’re taking small but effective steps like going paperless and working remotely, while other industries have taken larger leaps by having solar panels installed on-site and switching completely to solar energy. Nonetheless, the changes made, big or small, just shows how the world is taking notice of the pollutants in our environment and are working to do something about it.
One industry, in particular, the automotive coating industry, is taking major leaps in doing its part to reduce its negative impact on the environment. The automotive coating industry emits harmful chemicals into the air when painting or applying various other applications. If you have even the most basic understanding of what sustainability is, then you know how challenging it can be to try and implement sustainability in this particular industry.
In short, sustainability is the co-existence between the environment and human civilization, but it’s the efforts we make to preserve our natural resources to maintain an ecological balance for future generations. The challenge for all industries is figuring out how to meet the needs of human civilization without diminishing the opportunity to meet the needs of generations to come.
Again, this is a challenge that all industries are facing but finding solutions to this challenge is more difficult in certain industries than it is in others, and the automotive coating industry is an industry with the toughest challenge, simply because it’s a business whose sole purpose is air emissions by way of applying coatings, adhesives, and paints. The chemicals emitted are what you would call hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) and volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Today’s consumers are very environmentally conscious and expect manufacturers to be environmentally conscious as well. In other words, more and more consumers are wanting eco-friendly products and expect manufacturers to meet their needs, and this includes greener cars and practices. Because of the high demand for sustainability and eco-friendly practices from consumers, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) managers are now having to figure out ways to meet those needs for the betterment of the environment.
Though this presents many challenges, many great strides have been made. The biggest issue is, of course, the air emissions from the industry. If there was a way to reduce the industry’s air emissions, that would be a great start, right? Well, it would be a very impressive start and the industry has already made efforts in that right.
So first things first, look at how the automotive coating industry is reducing air emissions.
Testing New Products With Lower HAPs and Lower VOCs
In order for the industry to meet the demands of the public, it boiled down to finding ways to implement sustainable coatings. One way this is being done through paint. You have waterborne and solventborne coatings. Waterborne paints are 80% water, making it a much safer paint option because it has a much lower emission of VOCs than solventborne paint.
It’s during the painting process when these chemicals are emitted into the air. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to completely eliminate solvent from paint but the silver lining is that because waterborne solvents contain more water than VOCs, it doesn’t impact the environment as bad. This is a major step for this industry.
Many manufacturers are adopting waterborne solvents too because not only are they better for the environment but they’re also much easier to blend, waste is minimized, and they make cars overall look better.
The innovations made thus far are only signs of the times that eco-friendly alternatives will continue to dominate this market, and in turn, make the world a much better place. But aside from sustainable innovations in solvents, there are also some eco-friendly changes being made for auto industry employees safety as well.
Creating a Safer Workplace Environment For Auto Industry Workers
Working in the auto industry, workers are exposed to solvents and other harmful fumes and chemicals all the time and they pose great risks to workers in the industry. Occupational asthma, headaches, and other lung issues are among the health problems workers are at risk for, and that reason alone is why so many precautions have been put in place to protect workers in this industry.
Everything from personal protective equipment (PPE) and greener chemicals to required enrollment in PDR training schools, these are all measures that have been put in place to help reduce worker exposure to HAPs and VOCs in the auto industry.
There’s Still Much Work to be Done
Although great strides have been made in sustainability in the automotive industry, there, of course, is still more work to be done but reducing the overall air emissions is a great step in the right direction. Initiatives are being made every day for this industry to make its contributions in making the world a better place.