Paint from plants with Decovery®

The ultimate in ‘green’ paint

A plant-based resin for high-performance paint

The idea of returning home to walls and furniture painted with crude oil isn’t a very pleasant one. But it may be closer to home than you think. Not only does traditional paint contribute to harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs); it contains large amounts of fossil-based oils. But what if someone could replace these oils with tree bark, seeds and other organic materials to create a silky smooth, high-performing plant-based paint? It’s a nice idea but surely, impossible. Or is it…?

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The heart & soul of paint

Decovery® is a family of DSM paint resins with a difference: it’s made primarily from plants - with a carbon footprint up to one-third lower than traditional solvent-borne paint resins. As the heart & soul of the paint, it literally binds the product together, creating a high-quality paint for everything from walls and ceilings to kid’s furniture.

Today, the Decovery resin contains anywhere from 30-to-50% plant-based content, most of it agricultural waste. In fact, the vast majority of these ingredients don’t compete with the food chain – and even for those that do (like corn), the impact is negligible due to the comparatively low volumes. Most importantly, Decovery performs equally to (and in some cases better than) all traditional paint resins. It’s durable and chemical-resistant and provides a great finish with no yellowing effect (the main problem with previous bio-based paint resins).

Creating a safer & healthier environment

At DSM we’ve aligned our strategy specifically with five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015. In the case of Decovery that means:

Decovery aims to help achieve this by reducing the levels of organic chemicals and other toxins in paint, thus ensuring a safer, healthier environment.

Science & Innovation

Just one example of this is Sigma Air Pure paint, produced by global coatings giant PPG Coatings with Decovery inside. This unique super-matt wall paint not only purifies indoor air by removing harmful volatile organic substances like formaldehyde; it’s nearly 50% plant based. Says Maarten Buijs, Manager of Sustainability and New Business Development at PPG Coatings: “With this binding agent, we’ve achieved the optimal balance between sustainability and ease of processing… that’s demonstrably almost 50% bio-based. Now that’s what I call impressive!”

Our scientists achieved this impressive feat by taking the basic plant materials and converting them into tiny bio-based building blocks about one seventh the width of a human hair in length. We then start fitting these blocks together to create polymers with a wide range of properties (each made from millions of sub-units known as monomers). It’s these that form Decovery.

Stage 1

Our scientists take the basic plant materials and convert them into tiny bio-based building blocks about one seventh the width of a human hair in length.

Stage 2

We then start fitting these blocks together one at a time (not unlike the way an architect or designer builds their creation).

Stage 3

These structures in turn create polymers with a wide range of properties (each made from millions of sub-units known as monomers).

Stage 4

The resulting biobased polymers form our Decovery family of eco-friendly paint resins. 

The future

We’re now on the verge of launching a Decovery resin for the hard-wearing flooring segment.

Meanwhile, we aim to move to second-generation plant content - using corn hobs instead of the corn itself - thus not interfering with the food chain at all. To achieve it we’ll continue to study how to get more from what we already use; but we’ll also be investigating completely new natural materials that could be chemically engineered to produce the natural oils we need to make a high-performing plant-based paint resin.

We’re the first to admit that DSM is still taking its first steps towards creating more sustainable paints. But we intend to go much further. Decovery has sparked a genuine movement towards a 100% plant-based paint finish – and we intend to finish the job.

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