Which Car Paints & Clear Coats Are Greener: Aerosols Or Spray Guns?

15 September 2023 Automotive

As we all strive to reduce our environmental impact, we may find ourselves wondering whether using aerosol colour coats and clear coats is better or worse for the environment than using a spray gun. Leaving aside for a moment the various merits of each in terms of ease of use, finish quality and so on, let’s see how their green credentials compare.

Landfill Liability?

One argument against using paints and lacquers in aerosol cans is that the empty cans add to the volume of waste we send to landfill sites, but is that a fair claim?

Yes, if we don’t have a means of sending empty paint cans separately to recycling, it’s a fair comment. But cans are made from either steel or aluminium – both easily recyclable metals –so there’s no other reason why they shouldn’t be reprocessed.

Using a spray gun can also potentially add to landfill if we use wipes to clean spraying equipment after use and dispose of these in the industrial waste.

Chemical Hazard?

While they remain in liquid form, all paints and lacquers present a degree of hazard to the environment and should never be discarded in industrial waste. This applies both to the remnants left behind in aerosol cans and the surplus emptied from a spray gun at the end of a job.

However, as many paints and lacquers used in automotive refinishing are 2K, they will solidify within a short time of being activated and as soon as curing is complete they can be safely disposed of. If 1K paints or lacquers, or 2K paints, lacquers and hardeners are discarded, these should be disposed of properly by a qualified specialist waste contractor.

One advantage of aerosols is that any unused paint or lacquer is contained within the can. Another is that compared with using a spray gun, no solvents are required to clean them after use, so we produce fewer airborne and landfill pollutants.

Preventable Waste?

When we use 1K aerosol paints and lacquers – particularly for small areas and spot repairs – the exact amount is used and the rest remains in the can. Even a gravity-fed spray gun requires a minimum amount of paint or lacquer for the gun to function properly.

There is also the fact that aerosol products are premixed to the correct consistency for spraying. When we use a spray gun, we may accidentally overdo the thinners while we are mixing. Rectifying this with more paint or lacquer then increases the amount of discarded surplus.

So Which Wins?

Whether we use aerosols, spray guns or a combination of the two, there are ways in which we can reduce our impact on the environment. ProXL is actively working towards creating more environmentally friendly alternatives that perform equally as well as traditional paints and lacquers.

Water-based paints and lacquers contain lower amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and UV-cure formulations are completely VOC-free.

For more information, advice or details on reducing your environmental impact with ProXL automotive refinishing products, call 01634 823900 or contact us via our online contact form.