Valley Craft, a manufacturer of material-handling equipment, received a $100,000 grant toward its $150,000 conversion to a powder-coating paint system. Unlike liquid, powder coating doesn’t contain solvents and releases little or no VOCs. The company expects to reduce VOCs by more than 3 tons per year.
Valley Craft now limits its use of liquid paint to objects that can’t withstand the 370-degree powder-coating oven. Operations Manager Tom Balow said the company only used one gallon of wet paint in the first two months after the conversion.
Economic and environmental benefits
Less wet paint means less hazardous waste. It also means less air regulation from the MPCA. The new system has reduced VOC and other hazardous air pollutant emissions by well over 90%. This will allow Valley Craft to move from a Part 70 General Air Permit to a Registration permit (saving on administrative/staff time and eventually lower permit fees).
“Powder coating is a lot easier to apply and to train employees to use,” Balow said. “It’s a higher quality, more durable finish. Unlike wet paint, the powder finish won’t give under pressure from a fastener." There has been an 85% reduction in cost due to rework. It’s also been essential in retaining and obtaining customers.
“It’s been great to work with Tom Balow and Valley Craft,” states Eric David, MPCA nonpoint air lead. “The state is happy to help a great small business that wants to do the right thing by improving employee health and reducing its air pollution."
VOCs come from vehicles and wood burning as well as thousands of small, widespread sources such as paint shops, printers, and metal finishers. Ground-level ozone, or smog, is formed when VOCs combine with small particles and chemicals in the air and cook in the sun.
Ozone is unhealthy. Breathing even small amounts can be harmful - something like getting sunburn in the lungs. Minnesota is close to exceeding the new EPA ozone standard in some areas. It is important for us as a state to continue to reduce emissions, both for the environment and our health.
To cut smog, we need to cut VOCs. This project is part of a larger statewide partnership known as Clean Air Minnesota, which, in total, has reduced VOCs by more than 68 tons per year, equivalent to about 136,000 cans of spray paint. Visit the MPCA's VOC reduction page, for a full list of grantees.