By Colin Foreman
While paint manufacturers in Europe must comply with a raft of environmental standards, here in the United Arab Emirates, legislation is much more lenient. Construction Week speaks to Tony Myers, managing director of ICI Paints, about the implications for the local paint industry.
ICI paints a picture of success in UAE|~|DSC_0117200.jpg|~|Myers: “A lot of our work in terms of projecting our brand is to reinforce the environmental issues.”|~|What are the environmental concerns involving the paint industry at the moment in the UAE?
As far as I am aware at the moment, there is currently no legislation driving it as far as paint is concerned.
If you take Europe, there is an awful lot of legislation coming in, and by 2007 all the paint manufacturers must remove most of the volatile solvents from their paints.
That applies to all paints, although there are some exceptions in very specialist areas.
But in terms of classification on what we refer to as architectural paints, that is a European legislation.
What we have done at ICI is to take that world standard and apply it to the company’s products wherever it operates.
Does meeting these high standards have any downside?
The issue in this market for us is that safety issues and the environmental concerns from ICI’s perspective are extremely important.
We are prepared to go to whatever lengths to ensure that our products meet those environmental standards.
In local markets where there isn’t the necessary legislation in place, then the local manufacturers may not apply the same standards.
What problems does this create?
The difficulty of this is that the effect on competition goes
in their favour.
Removing solvents is an expensive process of reformulating, so water-based paints can be as good as most solvent-based paints in terms of application. Therefore, if the legislation is not in place, it enables them to use the same raw materials that the paint industry always has done.
Water-based paints can be much better, but they are much more expensive to produce.
Why are water-based paints more expensive to develop compared to solvent-based paints?
To bring a water-based paint product up and to still be able to achieve the same level of toughness of finish and longevity, involves using some very expensive resins.
And those similar performance attributes are easier to
deliver in solvent-based products than they are in water-based products.
So our concern is that our products suddenly get out priced in the market place because we are taking the high ground on environmental issues, and local manufacturers are not being forced to do that by local legislation.
So would you favour local environmental legislation being introduced here?
Yes, I would.
Does this market attract paints from around the world that fail to meet these international standards?
The trouble with paint is that it can either be very high-tech or very low-tech. Very low-tech paint you could make in your garage with a large bucket and stick.
So when you’re pricing on local jobs, a lot of people aren’t discerning enough to look at the performance criteria of the product over a period of time.
What people tend to do is look at the price that they are paying for a can of paint, which may be 18 litres or 5 litres in size, and they assume that one can of paint will contain roughly the same equal products as in another can of paint, but of course it doesn’t.
How do you make Dulux as a brand stand out from the rest of the competition?
A lot of our work in terms of projecting our brand is to reinforce the environmental issues, but secondly, performance-related products.
But I am afraid it’s pretty much a fact of life these days. It doesn’t matter if you are buying motor cars or clothes: You get what you pay for.
You can still get a bargain, but at the end of the day a degree of quality costs.||**||