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Paving the Way to Zero and Low VOC Formulations

Sustainable solutions for the coatings industry without sacrificing performance

The coatings industry has taken action to reduce environmental impact by regulating the effect of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on the environment. For decades now, this has resulted in EPA clean air regulations built around the production of zero to low VOC coatings and is progressing around the globe.  Studies have shown the effects coatings not only have on the environment, but also on users and end-users, causing ongoing stringent regulations to help overcome the impact. 

Formulation impact

In response, not only have coatings manufacturers had to reformulate or formulate new products to meet guidelines, but raw materials manufacturers have also had to develop new innovative products to help. While reducing VOC emissions is a positive direction to reduce environmental impact and make safer products for users and end-users, it poses a challenge as zero-to low VOC coatings can often sacrifice performance. 

Raw material manufacturers have taken to the challenge and developed alternatives to several products typically found in solvent-based products as we evolve to waterborne replacements.  Our suppliers provide a wide range of low VOC resins and additives for interior and exterior coatings that span across many applications. They provide optimal performance benefits such as:

  • Corrosion and heat resistance
  • Low odor
  • Improved adhesion
  • Scrub resistance
  • APEO-free
  • Preservation of aesthetics

Where challenge brings added benefits

While low VOC may be the focus, raw material suppliers have taken further action to provide manufacturers with products that drive innovation beyond just low-VOC. They’ve developed products that help drive efforts towards energy saving measures and improved longevity, helping save money and additional waste. Products that provide UV reflectivity to allow for cooler roofs or walls or even UV reflectivity to protect coatings against UV damage are a few examples of the many performance advantages. 

Helping overcome the challenge with our technical experts and solution center

Recently, a customer was trying to develop a low VOC primer that could bond well to aluminum, galvanized steel and aged alkyd, but was having trouble. After some formulation challenges, the customer reached out to our formulation lab in Houston to enlist the help of our technical experts and leverage our lab capabilities. With the combination of our lab and robust product portfolio, we were able to quickly step in and help the customer by developing a low VOC waterborne industrial primer with excellent adhesion on multiple surfaces. A sample was created for the customer and they are currently looking at scaling the formulation.

This is just one example of us helping a customer overcome the challenges of formulating to low VOC regulations. Our technical experts have decades of experience in all CASE applications, which allows us to listen and address all of our customers unique needs.   

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Without compromise

At Univar Solutions, we’ve found that formulating zero-low VOC strong, durable, long-lasting coatings can be challenging and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice performance for compliance.  This is why we’ve developed—Without Compromise—common coating formulation concepts that help you meet regulatory changes, while maintaining different performance characteristics. This includes concepts for:

  • Low VOC Solvent Based Roof Coating
  • Waterborne Roof Coating
  • Waterborne Industrial DTM Coating
  • Waterborne Architectural Coating
  • Waterborne Epoxy Coating

We believe that high performance and regulatory change are not an either/or proposition. That is why we work with our customers to innovate and anticipate regulatory change.

Working together, we provide coatings solutions that perform well and are safe for both people and the environment. Our technical experts and solution centers are readily available to help.  Contact us.