The environmental performance of the coating process in the European furniture industry has become a critical issue after the publication of the “Solvent emission directive” by the European Community in 1999. Consequently, several technologies and materials have been introduced in order to improve the sustainability of this key process. With this respect, life cycle assessment (LCA) can play a decisive role in the selection of the most appropriate coating system. The article presents the main features and the results of an LCA study which was undertaken in an actual plant in order to compare eight different coating systems. The results show that three aspects (namely energy consumption, volatile organic compound emissions and coat application technique) are mainly responsible for the overall impact of the process and that the most promising technologies are those which have small impacts with respect to those aspects.
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