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The sustainability of powder coating

Steel protection services such as galvanizing have become modernised to fit into a sustainable future. However, are alternative coating technologies such as powder coating as sustainable? We explore what powder coating is, whether it fits into a sustainable future, and how it compares to traditional coating methods such as paint.

Green powder coated steel

What is powder coating?

Powder coating is a steel coating method where coloured powder is electrostatically sprayed onto the surface of the metal. It is used as an alternative to paint, boasting many benefits where paint may fall short. As the powder is cured into the steel, it gives an extra layer of protection against corrosion and avoids chipping and damage. It can be used on top of galvanized steel to extends its lifespan even further.

Is powder coating sustainable?

Powder coating is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than paint in many ways.

Reduced VOC emissions

Traditional liquid paints often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can contribute to air pollution and have potential health hazards. Powder coating, on the other hand, releases negligible amounts of VOCs into the atmosphere during the application process.

Reduced waste

Powder coating generates less waste compared to liquid coatings. Excess powder can be reclaimed and reused, minimising the amount of material that ends up as waste. This is particularly beneficial in terms of resource conservation and waste reduction.

Increased longevity and durability

Powder coated finishes are known for their durability and resistance to corrosion. This longevity means there is a reduced need to maintain the steel with powder coating touch-ups. There is also less time associated with arranging for recoating the steel, which can cause extra emissions associated with transport.

The increased lifespan for steel also means that there is less need to fabricate new structures, reducing any environmental impact associated with steel fabrication. This helps powder coating form part of a circular economy.

Waste disposal

The already-minimal waste generated from the powder coating process is often less hazardous than waste from traditional paint processes. Disposal of unused powder coating material is generally easier and less environmentally impactful than the disposal of leftover liquid paint and associated solvents.

This, in combination with powder coating’s material efficiency, means that powder coating is a very sustainable choice.

All companies are responsible for sustainability

Although powder coating is more sustainable than paint, it’s important to note that the overall sustainability of a product also depends on factors such as the raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes, and end-of-life considerations.

The steel protection industry is still heavily reliant on transportation between plants and clients, impacting the environment. Fortunately, solutions are being implemented to minimise this, such as using hydrogenated vegetable oil in fleet vehicles, and making all forklifts electric. Company cars at Joseph Ash Galvanizing have made the shift to electric, too. Lastly, electricity comes from renewable sources, both on-site (from solar PV arrays) and externally (by using a renewable tariff with our supplier).

All companies – regardless of industry – also need to ensure they work with companies that share their sustainability goals. At Joseph Ash Galvanizing, all suppliers are vetted to include environmental accreditations and carbon reduction plans. We, in turn, are accredited to Environmental Management ISO14001 Standards.

Sustainable powder coating at Joseph Ash Galvanizing

Joseph Ash Medway is our one-stop shop facility for shot blasting, galvanizing, and powder coating.

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