Greenwashing? Better Business Bureau Tells Sherwin-Williams To Reconsider Advertising Claims

Apparently, it isn’t the paint itself that is the problem, it is the colorants added to the base paint that exceed definitions of low VOC (volatile organic compounds). The BBB asks the obvious question: how can you advertise the product as “low VOC”, if the final product is not in fact “low VOC”?

Paints must have fewer than 5 grams per liter (g/L) of VOCs to officially qualify as ?zero VOC,? and the Harmony base coat meets that threshold, according to tests. However, the typical colorants used to tint the paint can be much higher in VOCs. Harmony base paint tinted with conventional colorants can result in VOC levels as high as 112 g/L, according to tests commissioned by a competitor for the NAD. Since Sherwin-Williams only advertises tinted varieties of Harmony paint and consumers are only likely to buy tinted varieties, says NAD, the zero-VOC claim is misleading.

In its findings, NAD recommended that Sherwin-Williams ?clearly convey to consumers that there are exceptions to the line claim? and that ?the addition of conventional colorants to Harmony Deep Base paint may result in higher levels of VOCs for some colors.?