Review of the VOC paints directive underway

An EU consultancy report published in December recommends extending the 2004 directive on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and varnishes to other products such as hairsprays, solvent-based adhesives, window cleaning products and wood coatings.

The German consultancy Ökopol also recommends a stricter VOC limit value for solid-based interior decorative paints of 130 grams per litre.

It is estimated that these measures could reduce annual VOC emissions in the EU by between 94,000 and 106,000 tons.

The consultants did not however recommend setting a VOC limit of 10 per cent for deodorants/antiperspirants, in spite of the fact that this would lead to the highest VOC reduction of all options investigated, 126,000 tons. The report states that the implementation of this option “is expected to have limited acceptance at consumers used to apply aerosol- or pump-type spray systems,” as they would then need to change to roller-type systems.

A review of the directive is being undertaken in line with the provisions of its Article 9, and the European Commission will now consider the consultancy’s recommendations and possibly propose legislative changes in 2011.

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Note: Directive 2004/42/EC on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products (known as the VOC Paints Directive), establishes limit values for the maximum VOC contents of various products. Those products include paints for use on buildings, their trims and fittings and structures associated with buildings and products for vehicle refinishing. For paints there are two sets of limit values, the first one applies from 1 January 2007, and the second, stricter set of limits, applies from 1 January 2010. For vehicle refinishing products there is only one set of limit values, which applies from 1 January 2007.

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