Survey Says: Environmentally friendly products important, but affordability is key

Collision Repair magazine asked repairers how important it is to have environmentally friendly suppliers.

By Tom Davis

Toronto, Ontario — December 12, 2017 — AkzoNobel recently opened what it claims to be the “world’s most sustainable” paint factory in Ashington, UK, earlier this year. The company says the plant will cut emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by recycling all its water and 90 percent of the solvents used to make paints. But what do collision repairers think of environmentally friendly products? Our recent survey found it’s important to collision repairers, but many can’t justify the increased costs.

Collision Repair magazine asked repairers how important it is to have environmentally friendly suppliers. According to the readers surveyed, 46 percent said this was “very important” to their business, while 29 percent claimed it was somewhat important. A further 21 percent said it was “extremley important”, while only 2 percent said it was “not important” and nobody answered that they did not care. 

Speaking of using environmentally-friendly suppliers, one anonymous respondent said: “We have to do our part to look after this place called earth, for mankind to go on living here for many more years.” 

It’s clear that the readers surveyed were eager for suppliers to be environmentally friendly, but they weren’t, however, willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products. Only 6 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium, while 13 percent said they would not. The vast majority (63 percent) said it would entirelyy depend on the product and its price. It’s possible that the respondents simply expect suppliers to be environmentally friendly these days, or perhaps it’s just not a worthwhile cost for their customers.

One respondent said: “I cannot pass the cost onto our insurance customers. They are in control of paint material pricing.” While another added: “The insurance companies have not paid us extra for the increase in process or materials for Waterborne – do you think they will pay us for materials of such?”

Meanwhile, two readers already believe they are paying a premium for paint products. One commented: “I believe that we are paying a premium price for paint already and have for several years since waterborne was introduced and before it became mandatory.”

Looking at the consumables that repairers already buy, the environmental impact of a product was actually ranked as the least important component of a product. Price, performance, supplier support and ease of use were all ranked as “very important”, while the respondents only ranked the environmental impact as “somewhat important.”

Despite this, a large number of respondents claimed they had taken steps to reduce the environmental footprint of their shops. This included installing LED lighting, in-house recycling programs and energy-efficient heating.

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