New Research Paves the Way for Sustainable Solvent Use in the Paints and Coatings Industry

Dale Pollard

Business Development Manager, PRA World

Date: July 3, 2024

Contact: Laura Pilon, Paint Research Association Email: [email protected]

Helen F. Sneddon, Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence Email: [email protected]

Melton Mowbray, UK – July 3, 2024 – The latest research published in the 25th Anniversary Collection of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Green Chemistry demonstrates a path forward in understanding and improvement of sustainability of solvents used in the paints and coatings industry. The study, led by a collaborative team from the Paint Research Association and the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York, introduces a comprehensive solvent sustainability guide specifically tailored for this complex sector.

The publication, titled “Development of a Solvent Sustainability Guide for the Paints and Coatings Industry,” marks a significant advancement in promoting environmental responsibility within one of the largest global markets for solvents.

Key Highlights:

  • Industry-Specific Focus: Unlike previous guides tailored for the pharmaceutical industry, this new guide addresses the unique solvent requirements and applications in paints and coatings. It provides a nuanced approach that considers the different lifecycle stages and environmental impacts of solvents used in consumer and industrial paint products.
  • Extensive Solvent Assessment: The guide evaluates 77 solvents, including 31 assessed for the first time in this context. These solvents were selected based on their relevance to the paints and coatings industry, which were split into those used in decorative or industrial applications.
  • Sustainability Criteria: Solvents are scored across multiple sustainability criteria, reflecting their environmental and health impacts. The guide aims to inform research and development decisions, enabling more sustainable choices when full life cycle assessments are impractical. New criteria have been introduced since previous solvent guides were published, including indoor air quality (for decorative paints assessment), global warming potential and availability of bio-based routes to manufacture.
  • Future Adaptability: The guide is designed to be adaptable, with the understanding that solvent sustainability scores may evolve as new bio-based solvents are developed and further toxicology assessments are conducted.
  • Sustainable Choices: 3 examples are presented for replacement of problematic solvents within the paints and coatings industry, in particular xylene and butyl glycol, with more sustainable alternatives.

The paints and coatings industry, responsible for nearly half of global solvent use, faces increasing regulatory pressures and environmental concerns related to volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. This new guide provides a crucial tool for balancing these environmental considerations with industrial performance requirements.

The authors would like to thank the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Pera International for funding this project.


The full research article is available in the journal Green Chemistry and can be accessed online at DOI: 10.1039/d4gc01962h.

For more information, please contact:

About the Paint Research Association:

The Paint Research Association (PRA) is dedicated to advancing the technology and sustainability of paints, coatings, and related materials through research, development, and education.

About the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence:

The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) at the University of York is renowned for its innovative research in green and sustainable chemistry, focusing on the development of environmentally friendly chemical processes and products.

This press release is distributed by the Paint Research Association.

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