Ecomatters has successfully completed two life cycle studies on the application of coating systems in outdoor use for CEPE – the European Council of Paint, Printing Ink and Artist’s Colours Industry. The Protective Coatings sector group of CEPE studied alternative coating systems on steel bridges, by analysing the construction and maintenance of a bridge on a rural road, passing over a motorway, for 100 years. The Powder Coatings sector of CEPE studied the application of powder coating on a square meter of an aluminium window frame, coated with a typical layer thickness, over its life cycle.
The screening LCAs, executed in 2014 and 2015, are valuable for CEPE as they show the hotspots in the value chain and the differences between the different coating applications. These results can be used for internal understanding of the environmental impact within the systems value chain.
A number of alternatives have been studied over the full life cycle. Through an increase in coating thickness, the number of coating layers, or the use of a different formulation, the number of maintenance cycles is reduced, and the lifetime of the bridge or window increases.
The best environmental performance of the product over the entire life cycle is obtained by reducing the amount of (construction) material needed. The quality pays off: the direct impact caused by coatings in both cases is not significant compared to the use of more concrete, steel and aluminium.