8 Ways Paint Shops Can Reduce Emissions, Waste and Costs

Written by Andy Potts - Ultrimax - 17/03/23

 emissions reduction in the paint shop


8 Ways Paint Shops Can Reduce Emissions, Waste and Costs in 2023 and Beyond

There’s no denying that businesses in the finishing industry are facing a number of unprecedented challenges in 2023. Brexit, COP26 and the global COVID-19 pandemic have all played their part in reshaping the legal obligations and business priorities of paint shops in every industrial sector. Achieving net zero and remaining profitable amid a spiraling raw materials crisis may feel daunting, but there are many simple-to-implement changes that your company can make or plan for right now. Here are eight approaches to consider, along with their wider benefits.

1. Get to grips with VOCs

Do you know where your company stands legally in relation to its VOC consumption and emissions? In England and Wales, businesses in the finishing sector are required by the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016 to have a permit if their annual VOC consumption exceeds 5 tonnes. Complying with a permit involves evidencing that you are doing everything you can to minimise your VOC emissions. But even if you don’t require a permit, keeping track of your VOCs and working towards net zero is the responsible thing to do. Going green is also likely to be good for your bottom line.

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2. Switch to water-based paints

Water-based coatings are the future, so it makes sense to get ahead of the game and convert from solvent-based coatings now. The joinery industry has paved the way here, and with great success. There is now a high-performance water-based coating system for most, if not all, joinery applications. Other industrial sectors are finding it harder to move away from solvent-based coatings. Steel paint shops, for example, have historically encountered issues when using water-based formulations, making them more cautious about the switch. But waterborne technology is advancing at pace. Coatings manufacturers have already eradicated major issues such as slow drying times and finish hardness. It’s true that water-based paints still have more potential application issues than solvent-based paints, but most problems are avoidable, which brings us to point 3.

 emissions reduction in the paint shop

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3. Train your paint technicians

One of the biggest challenges facing paint shops in relation to using water-based paints is adapting to the change. That means building your production lines around the paint system that you’re using, preparing surfaces correctly and using suitable spray equipment and application techniques. When your technicians follow a product’s technical datasheet correctly and have the necessary spraying skills, a water-based coating will deliver its promise.

So what does this mean in practice?

At Ultrimax, we see paint shops getting excellent results with water-based paints when they train their technicians to:

  • Be aware of common application issues and how to avoid them
  • Know how to troubleshoot issues when they do occur
  • Get the best results from their spray equipment and water-based products

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Ultrimax can:

  • Provide spray technique advice and training
  • Audit the products you use and recommend more fit-for-purpose, environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives where appropriate?


Contact our Total Paint Shop Support Team on 01302 856666 or email sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.ukfor more details.

4. Update your equipment

Consider whether your spray kit needs updating. Do you need more efficient guns? Is your booth still running as well as it once did? If you’re a steel paint shop, can you move to electrostatic painting? Even if updates are out of budget right now, it makes sense to audit your equipment and plan for any necessary purchases.

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5. Tighten up stock control

There are many points in the stock control cycle where waste can shrink your profit margins and increase your chemical waste disposal costs, often unnoticed. From the ordering of material, delivery and stocking of the cabinets, to the allocation of material per job, there are savings to be made in most paint shops.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you organising, securing, and labelling your inventory effectively?
  • Do you have standard operating procedures for inventory control?
  • Do you rationalise product SKUs to ensure inventory efficiency?
  • Do you set and review minimum and maximum inventory levels?
  • Are your stock storage solutions secure and fit for purpose?
  • Can you move to a web-based inventory management system?
  • Are you operating a first-in-first-out system for products with a shelf life?
  • Do you calculate exactly how much product you need per job and stick to it?
  • Is stock management included in your induction process for key staff?

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Ultrimax can help you manage your stock more effectively?

Contact our Total Paint Shop Support Team on 01302 856666 or email sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.ukfor more details.

6. Recycle solvents

Many industrial solvents, such as lacquer-thinners, acetones and chlorides can be processed to render up to 95 per cent of their bulk into reusable product. Solvent recycling machines might not be cheap, but they bring a huge return on investment:

  • Significantly reduce the amount of solvent that you need to buy
  • Shrink disposal and regulatory costs
  • Enhance your brand reputation, particularly with your local community
  • Improve your VOC stats.

 emissions reduced with a solvent recycler

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7. Review your processes

We have covered some of the key processes that you can review, but a full audit of your paint processes will ensure that your operations are efficient (which also reduces costs and increases outputs) and environmentally conscious. Areas to cover include:

  • Purchasing and storing solvents
  • On-site movement and handling of solvents
  • Finishing processes
  • Technician and stores personnel training
  • Written procedures
  • Maintenance and testing
  • Malfunction/breakdowns that increase VOC consumption/emissions
  • Workforce culture and motivation
  • Disposal and recovery
  • Management procedures.



Ultrimax can help you audit your paint processes?

Contact our Total Paint Shop Support Team on 01302 856666 or email sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.ukfor more details.

8. Review your supply chain

Have you considered the impact that your supply chain is having on your ability to reduce your environmental impact? Some suppliers are slower to source and stock VOC-free or low-VOC products than others. Are you able to bulk order? Do your suppliers offer advice and additional services that support you to be greener, more efficient and save money? What are their green credentials like?

Need More Help With Emission Control?

For further professional advice, call our Total Paint Support Team on +44(0)1302 856666 or email sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.uk.

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Get Expert Support

For more help and advice about any of the approaches outlined in this post, contact our Total Paint Shop Support Team on 01302 856666 or email sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.ukfor more details.

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