Box costs to rise in anti-pollution drive

Anti-pollution drive for shipping containers

Four of China’s largest container manufacturing groups are on schedule to change their box production from solvent-based coatings to waterborne paint. The result will be a reduction in pollution at the manufacturing plants but an increase in cost.

The “2016 Container Owners Association report on Availability of Waterborne Paints for the Container Industry” notes that a firm timetable is in place for the changeover. The move for factories located in Southern China will begin from 1 July 2016. Factories in the rest of China will changeover from 1 April 2017.

“This switch results from an initiative by the China Container Industry Association in response to new environmental regulations in China to reduce volatile organic compound emissions, with the threat of tough penalties being applied to both the container manufacturer and the paint supplier if any containers are painted using solvent borne paints after the dates mentioned above.”

Some 95% of the world’s container production takes place in China and the industry is a substantial contributor to the high level of air pollution – so joint action was necessary to tackle the problem.  Recognising that the cost of manufacturing containers using waterborne paint is higher than solvent based paint and that container buyers would suffer a price penalty by nominating waterborne paint, the CCIA’s members agreed that the only way to achieve “fair competition” would be to “commit together and act together”.  Hence, the decision for all CCIA members to agree to switch to the exclusive use of waterborne paint in all factories on specific dates.

Nigel Stribley, moderator of the COA’s Alternative Materials Committee and author of the COA Report, says: “Container buyers risk production problems when the factories first switch to waterborne paint but everyone in the container industry has to play their part in reducing the air pollution in China.  The benefit of the CCIA’s action is that the risk is the same for all buyers and it is difficult to see how anyone can secure a competitive advantage from the switch.”

He adds: “Waterborne paint will initially be more expensive than solvent borne and the application and drying of the paint on the containers will add cost so it is anticipated that the price of containers will rise but the exact premium is difficult to forecast as it will depend upon commercial considerations as well.”

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