In paint, the polymeric content of binders and certain additives used in paint may fall under the definition of microplastics. These are synthetic polymeric particles smaller than 5 mm. While the binder typically makes up 35% of paint, the solid fraction makes up about 18% while the rest is solvent (e.g., water).
CEPE and its members are actively involved in gaining more knowledge on the contribution of paint to the microplastics problem and finding solutions. While the exact contribution of paint is unclear, the paint industry is committed to finding solutions through research, innovation, and user education.
Microplastic waste can form when a paint layer degrades due to weather exposure. However, there currently is no robust scientific data that can quantify the contribution of paint to microplastics pollution in the marine or terrestrial environment. Existing literature often uses a large set of assumptions, some of which are questionable and can lead to significant overestimations.
One particular study, ‘Plastic Paints the Environment’ (2022, Environmental Action) has recently been the subject of much attention and discussion. The report uses a questionable set of assumptions to conclude that paint is a significant source of microplastic pollution. CEPE has reviewed this study and finds that some assumptions in this study are wrong, highly questionable or deviate from scientific standards and definitions commonly used in the EU. Our full review can be found here. (see annex 2)
CEPE has contracted one renowned research institute to conduct two studies on the degradation of façade and marine coatings and the emission of microplastics.
Good painting practices
CEPE and its members are committed to supporting education for end users.