Sustainability and the state of the economy take centre stage at the British Coatings Federation Annual Conference

27 May 2022

Sustainability in Practice panellists sitting on stage in discussions at BCF Conference

Over 150 senior decision-makers from the UK’s paints, coatings and printing ink sectors gathered in Birmingham for the annual British Coatings Federation (BCF) Annual Conference.

The opening keynote from the UK Government’s Business Department (BEIS) highlighted the government’s growth drivers and Net Zero ambitions for energy, chemicals and coatings.

The Bank of England outlined the latest economic forecasts for the UK – the economy will be stagnant for the next four years with inflation peaking at 10% this autumn. The good news is that it will drop back closer to 3% by the end of 2023. The Conference also heard from DIY expert Steve Collinge, who gave an overview of how the sector is navigating the post-Covid economic climate.

On sustainability, the conference heard about the first global coatings industry’s sustainability report, to be published later this year by the World Coatings Council, followed by MAKE UK, who outlined the vision for achieving Net Zero in the manufacturing sector.

This was followed by an intense panel discussion on leftover paint recycling and Packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), featuring paint recyclers, metal and plastic packaging suppliers and experts on packaging and waste policy. The panel answered many of the audience’s questions surrounding the challenges and opportunities for paint recycling, and markets for leftover paint. On Packaging EPR, brand owners are faced with a new regime from 2024 which will move the cost of household waste collection and processing to brand owners

The keynote speaker Claire Lomas MBE, tells her inspiring story of recovering from a horse-riding accident in 2007, which left her paralysed from the chest down. Determined not to give up, she made worldwide headlines in 2012 when completing the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit taking 17 days and lit the Paralympic cauldron for London 2012. Her positive spirit, raw honesty and zest for life made a huge impact on all present. The Conference closed with BCF CEO, Tom Bowtell, taking to the stage to outline BCF’s highlights of the last year, and the challenges facing the sector.

The evening dinner raised over £3,000 for the event’s charity partner, Community Heartbeat Trust, which has installed over 700 lifesaving defibrillator stations in red phone boxes across the UK, with paint provided by BCF member companies.

BCF President Guy Williams commented:

“The topics of this year’s conference were highly appropriate for the challenges the industry is facing today – really tough economic conditions but a huge focus on sustainability, with paint recycling and Net Zero being key themes for the future of BCF’s work, as well as working with the UK Government to improve the regulatory landscape.”

Guy closed the Conference by thanking lead sponsor Microban, and our other sponsors Fenton Packaging, LKAB, Stort Chemicals and Verlingue for their generous support.