Initiative to streamline environmental responsiveness: Introducing water-based paint at Asian dealers
Honda recognizes the need to minimize the environmental impact of industrial waste such as the used tires and oil and scrap cars that are generated as part of its after-sales business activities. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during painting work are one such area since atmospheric emissions of compounds such as toluene and xylene from paint act as photochemical oxidants to cause photochemical smog. These compounds also cause acid rain, contributing to the destruction of forestland and interfering with absorption of CO2 to accelerate global warming.
Along with Europe and South Korea, California and a number of other states in the U.S. have prohibited the use of paint mixed with solvents or thinners, leading to broad use of water-based paint.
By contrast, use of solvent-based paint remains common in Southeast Asia, which lacks legal regulations prohibiting their use, and very few dealers have pursued use of water-based paint on their own due to the higher cost.
Honda Automobile (Thailand), a Honda automobile subsidiary in Thailand, recently decided to take the lead in introducing water-based paint at automotive dealers in the country. The Customer Service Education Branch's Body Repair and Painting Team in Japan was asked to help prepare for the change, but the team lacked the necessary expertise at the time since use of water-based paint was unusual in Japan due to the lack of similar regulations there. At the same time, there has been a tendency in the industry to avoid use of water-based paint due to its high cost.
We then conducted an exhaustive trial of water-based paint and upon reviewing their properties found that water-based paint contains more pigment (i.e., it "covers" better) than solvent-based paint that has been cut with thinner, with the result that less paint is needed to complete a given job. The use of existing techniques to apply water-based paint leads to the use of more paint than is needed, increasing costs. We realized that it was overuse of paint that was fueling the view that water-based paint is more expensive. Using the appropriate amount of paint not only saves on total paint consumption, but also streamlines work by shortening the number of hours needed to complete a given painting job, increasing the amount of work that can be finished each day and boosting body repair revenue. As a result, dealers in Thailand welcomed the introduction of water-based paint, and we were able to bring it to all of the more than 100 body repair and painting shops in the country. Having incorporated these techniques into training materials, we're currently introducing water-based paint in China and Indonesia, and we have begun to study its introduction in Vietnam. In Asia, where there are no regulations prohibiting solvent-based paint, and China, where such regulations are comparatively weak, Honda's environmental responsiveness in this area places it a step ahead of other companies. We will continue this program of activities to delight those who implement environmental measures based on our global environmental slogan, "Blue Skies for Our Children."