Mowilex Indonesia replaces harmful paints for free, paint market to grow at 8 percent

13, Sep. 2021

More playgrounds in Indonesia are painted with lead-free paint to protect children. (Photo: Mowilex)
More playgrounds in Indonesia are painted with lead-free paint to protect children. (Photo: Mowilex)

By Celine Chen

JAKARTA, NNA - PT Mowilex Indonesia is rolling out a program for stores and distributors across the country to replace old stocks of their lead-based paints for wood and metal with lead-free paints for free.

The move by Mowilex Indonesia, which halted production of the lead-based Mowilex Cat Kayu dan Besi paints in 2019, is part of international efforts to phase out harmful lead used in certain paints and coatings.

Initiated by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint reported that 79 countries had set legally binding limits on the production, import and sale of lead paints by December 2020.

The campaign for voluntary paint replacement will be carried out from September 1 till the end of the year. Lead found in old paints came mainly from pigments used in yellows and reds, plus certain orange and green shades that had incorporated yellow and red components.

In a press statement, Mowilex Indonesia CEO Niko Safavi, said, "Though the COVID-19 pandemic slowed progress globally, we remain committed to protecting families and the planet by eliminating lead in our consumer products."

Lead, a toxic metal that can collect in the body, is particularly harmful to children, whose bodies can absorb four to five times more lead than adults. That exposure may trigger intellectual impairment and an increased risk of behavioural issues, with much of the burden falling on families in countries with lower incomes.

"We knew that we would lose revenue while we paused to redevelop our formulas, but we felt that acting ethically and responsibly was more important. We're taking the next step by removing leftover lead-based Mowilex Cat Kayu dan Besi products from store shelves," said Safavi.

Mowilex achieved an impressive 98 out of 100 marks from the Green Product Council Indonesia in an assessment for product certification.

Hendrata Atmoko, the council chairman, hopes the action taken by Mowilex would inspire other paint manufacturers in Indonesia to follow suit.

"We spend more than 80 percent of our time inside homes, offices and other buildings. That makes chemical exposure a real concern," said Atmoko.

However, not all Indonesians understand the harmful effects of lead paint, so the need to educate them would have to continue, he added.

Indonesia’s paint and coating industry has long enjoyed mostly stable growth, supported by the expanding middle-class and projects by industrial consumers such as property and real estate developers.

The industry is one of few business sectors in Indonesia dominated by local players taking up about 75-80 percent of market share, according to Global Business Guide Indonesia.

PT Propan Raya Industrial Coating Chemicals takes the lion share, followed by players such as PT Avia Avian and Akzo Nobel NV.

Two big Japanese players are Nippon Paint Holdings Co and PT Kansai Prakarsa Coatings which carries the ‘Kansai Paint’ brand.

Euromonitor had estimated that the industry in Indonesia would grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent from 2016 to 2021, to reach 41.3 trillion rupiah (about $2.8 billion), driven by heavy government spending on infrastructure and residential projects.

Inkwood Research believes the industry would continue to flourish at 8.16 percent from 2021 to 2025, helped by a surging population, rapid urbanization, growing construction industry, and swiftly rising middle class.

Meanwhile, Mowilex's paint replacement campaign is one of the sustainability initiatives it is carrying out.

The first company in Indonesia to be a certified carbon-neutral manufacturer in 2019, it is currently helping to protect 65,000 hectares of forest in the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Borneo, which is also home to endangered orangutans.

Mowilex also supports the protection of endangered whale sharks in an environmentally sensitive marine area in Sumbawa.

Working with Indonesia's environment and forestry ministry, Mowilex is planting 50,000 new trees - including 5,500 mangrove trees to strengthen coastlines and capture carbon in Bali and Purwakarta.

The company has also pledged to reduce new plastic use in its packaging by 80 percent before 2027.