Tri-Art and the Environment

From Steve Ginsberg
President of Tri-Art Mfg.

There is heightened awareness and concern about the environment, and rightly so. Tri-Art Manufacturing is a company that has always been committed to being both environmentally conscious and responsible. As a manufacturer of paint and studio accessories, we recognize our responsibility, and will continue to explore and "think outside the box", to minimize our footprint and the footprint of what we produce on the environment. To that end, we have instituted a number of Green initiatives in our production methods, factory protocol and product development. We would like to share some of these with you and pass on tips for "Safe Studio Practices".

Tri-Art's Green Initiatives in production and product development:

Water Filtration System
One of the most extensive initiatives Tri-Art has implemented is our water filtration system. The production of acrylic paint requires a significant quantity of water and also produces a large amount of wastewater (grey water) with the clean up. Recognizing the possible equation of this intake and output, we have developed a process to reuse and recycle our grey water for the cleaning of our equipment. This initiative both conserves the amount of water we consume and the amount of "dirty" water we put back into the public filtration system.
In conjunction with this, we have also devised an elaborate process to reconstitute our waste solids to produce an acrylic product called Sludge. This eliminates our cleaning waste from going into landfills or incineration centres.

Tri-Art has continued to experiment over the years to develop a product that can be created from the waste bi-products of acrylic paint production. We have developed a process to get the filtered waste solids into a state that can be used in the production of our product, which we affectionately called "Sludge". Sludge is made with 100% recycled pigment harvested from our clean-up production. Occasionally we use off-spec or factory spills to obtain the colour. No two Sludge productions are alike, thus we do not assign a colour name to them, but rather refer to each edition by their Batch #. The production of Sludge is an expensive and extremely extensive process, but it is in our minds, a much better alternative to what are the established practices of paint manufacturing.
We often get asked if artists can make their own Sludge from their dirty paint water, and the answer is "NO". It is an intricate process, which involves the inclusion of some raw chemical agents that are necessary to make this a safe and usable product, but which cannot be offered commercially. We do recommend that as a studio practice, artists let their dirty water sit for a period of time to allow the separation of solids and water. Once separated the water is good to use again for your brushes and the waste at the bottom of the container can be dried and the be disposed of as a solid, as opposed to going down the drain and into water systems. In a dry solid state pigments and acrylics are not as actively volatile and are more stable.

Tri-Art Palette - The last palette you will ever need
A long-time Tri-Art favorite for the studio, is our non-stick palette, the perfect tool for safe studio practice. The Tri-Art palette is made from a plastic that will not allow acrylics to adhere permanently. Once the paint dries it will peel or scrape off the palette with ease. This feature is of two-fold importance. It allows the palette to be re-used indefinitely and to remain in the studio and out of the garbage. Secondly, it prevents the paint from having to go down the drain and into the public filtration system. The dried paint peels are ideal for collage or texture grounds in future works of art.

Solucryl - A Green paint for the classroom
We have a paint line called Solucryl, whose primary market is young students in the classroom. Solucryl possesses many inherent green qualities. The paint can initially be used like an acrylic, tempera or gouache, and once dry, can be re-constituted to a liquid state to be used as a water-colour with the introduction of water. The leftover paint, or dried paint, can be used again and again, and therefore will not be wasted and disposed of. We have also developed the recipe, as with all our paints, that helps increase the shelf life by avoiding mold growth in the paint, again decreasing the amount of waste. Solucryl's packaging has been designed to help eliminate paint loss as well. It has a flip cap top, which helps to control both the volume of paint dispensed and the amount of air and dirty contaminants that can affect the longevity of paint.
All of these measures are bonuses for the classroom or home studio.

New Product Packaging
Another Green production initiative for Tri-Art has to do with our packaging. We are have designed and are now producing our own packaging on site. This change effects every single tube, bottle, jar and cap, in all sizes, for all lines. Our new packaging uses less materials and is far more efficient on every level possible.
We are very excited about this, as previously, the large majority of our packaging has been imported from out of the country, and in some cases from extremely long distances. Instead of importing products manufactured elsewhere, as is the predominate distribution .... practice, we have imported the equipment to manufacture the products ourselves. Even the raw plastic that we are using for our packaging is produced locally, less then 1/2 hour away from the factory. We have chosen PETE plastic for all our packaging, including our tubes. It is fully recyclable, does not leach, and requires less energy to produce.
We have designed a look that is refreshingly modern and innovative, especially with our fully collapsible, clear tubes. Tri- Art is taking advantage of the possibilities with 21Century packaging.
The fact that Tri-Art is producing its own packaging, allows us to reduce our carbon footprint, support local manufacturing and have control over the production practices, quality and look of our packaging.

Raw Materials
Tri-Art makes its raw materials purchases in North America as much as possible. In some cases this is a more expensive decision, but one that we feel is necessary. It is tempting, in terms of lower costs, to import at discount prices from other countries... but Tri-Art feels that the cost is just too high in too many ways to mention.

As we endeavor to find new ways to improve every aspect of our production, we hope that you will join us in an effort to reduce the impact our art materials have on our environment, by practicing safe and clean practices in your own studios and classrooms.

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