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Solvent-borne paints available

A Merseyside paint company plans to continue providing solvent-borne refinish products for niche repairers, despite environmental laws requiring most bodyshops to switch to waterborne systems.

The European Paint Directive came into force on January 1, limiting the use of organic solvents in vehicle refinishing paints.

It requires bodyshops buying more than 0.5 tonnes of volatile organic compound (VOC) paints to switch to more environmentally friendly alternatives, and bans paint manufacturers from bringing to market non-compliant paint for automotive use.

However, Autopaint International is taking advantage of a one year run-out allowed for non-compliant products, and has pledged to continue supplying solvent-borne basecoats and other non-compliant finishes “for the foreseeable future”.

“With distributors able to sell non-VOC compliant products until the end of 2007, and no fixed period for bodyshops to use up existing stocks – and the current exemptions for historic vehicles and motorcycle repairs – there is still plenty of leeway for maintaining current supplies,” says a spokesman.

Autopaint International has 14 directly-owned outlets around the UK, and a 32,000sq ft distribution warehouse in Knowsley.

“Our core customers are small, independent spray-shops and the little garages that repair and refinish damaged body parts, as well as specialists in farm machinery, classic vehicles, commercial plant, off-roaders and military hardware,” says managing director Gary Fearns.

“They are all understandably concerned about the EPD legislation and how it will affect them and their businesses, so I am ensuring them of immediate continuity of supply. If I have my way, Autopaint will be among the last still selling solvent-borne topcoats and other traditional finishes.”

Fearns estimates up to 4,000 smaller businesses will continue to use non-compliant materials, because of the cost of upgrading their mixing, drying and spraying equipment in order to use waterborne paints.

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