Sherwin-Williams Company recently received an EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for a new paint formulation that uses both soybean oil and recycled plastic bottles. Since introducing the new formula last year, Sherwin-Williams says it has used 320,000 pounds of soybean oil, 250,000 pounds of PET, and eliminated 1,000 barrels of oil. It also eliminated 800,000 pounds of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds.
These VOCs, which are present in high levels in oil-based “alkyd” paints tend to pollute the air as the paint dries. This new product is a water-based acrylic alkyd paint, which cuts VOC content by 60%, according to the company.
In the past, when we thought about oil-based paint, we weren’t necessarily thinking about soybean oil. Though this new paint is indeed, water-based, the addition of soybean oil, and recycled plastic bottles, gives it performance that is comparable with earlier oil-based paints.
Sherwin-Williams won the Designing Greener Chemicals category for its Water-Based Acrylic Alkyd Technology. According to the EPA’s award notice:
The high cost and uncertain availability of petroleum-based raw materials makes dependence on these materials unsustainable. Furthermore, the tightening of volatile organic compound (VOC) regulations by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) necessitates VOC-compliant waterborne coatings in place of solvent-borne coatings. Today, acrylic latex emulsions dominate the low-VOC waterborne coatings and alkyds dominate the solvent-borne coatings, but latex-based coatings have difficulty meeting all the performance and application properties of solvent-borne coatings. To address this challenge, The Sherwin-Williams Company developed a novel, low-VOC, water-based acrylic alkyd technology based on sustainability principles.
The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards recognize the design of safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes, and products that will protect the public, including sensitive populations, particularly children, from exposure to harmful chemicals.
An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute selected the 2011 winners from scores of nominated technologies.
The new formula is found in several Sherwin-Williams products including: ProClassic Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd, ProMar 200 Waterbased Acrylic Alkyd, and ProIndustrial Waterborne Enamel.
Other winners of this year’s Green Chemistry Awards include:
- Genomatic – Greener Synthetic Pathways Award
- Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. – Greener Reaction Conditions Award
- BioAmber Inc.- Small Business Award and
- Professor Bruce H. Lipshutz – Academic Award
These water based acrylic alkyd paints are not Sherwin-Williams’ first foray into the realm of sustainability, or into low-VOC paints for that matter. Nor was it any kind of accident. The company has been headed in this direction, starting with the formation of their internal EcoVision initiative, several years back. In 2009, they introduced their GreenSure line of paints, including low-VOC (Duration Home) and no-VOC (Harmony) paints. All GreenSure products come in 100% post-consumer recycled packaging with labels printed in soy ink.
Sherwin-Williams also uses biodiesel fuel in their trucks, has a “zero-discharge” policy that distills and reuses solvents and it recycles all cardboard, paper and metal at their solvent-based plants.
RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
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