Economic collapse causes road paint shortage

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 9:18 am by George Smith

In the past few months there have been many stories, often buried inside newspapers, on a national shortage of road paint.

It’s a complicated picture but mainly has to do with the economic collapse and subsequent shortages of raw materials, one of which is made in China.

A collection of road paint shortage stories can be seen here using Google.

A report by the American Traffic Safety Services Association is here and describes the issues succinctly.

The problem is global in nature, the report states in its overview.

“The raw materials shortages are a result of limited availability of certain resins and rosins … as well as a shortage of titanium dioxide,” it continues.

As a result pavement marking paint manufacturers have been running below capacity in the US. And since many small business contractors are responsible for distributing and marking roadways throughout the US, their business has slumped. In the ATSSA June report reads “[this] would … likely result in bankruptcies and layoffs, thereby possibly reducing competition in the future when the market normalizes.”

In other words, only the strong survive.

“The chemical industry, as a whole, has endured the global economic downturn … and was forced to reduce production to retain profitability,” it reads.

Phenol and rosin ester production, key materials in the chain of paint manufacturing, slumped in the US. The economic collapse also brought about the shuttering of one Dow Chemical plant for the sake of retaining profit margins, thereby killing one third of American capacity.

China came through the global collapse in good shape and its roadway construction has soared.

Consequently, it has reserved all its production of titanium dioxide, another raw material used in road paint, for internal use.

And you have guessed it, the US gets fifteen percent of its titanium dioxide from China.

Oof! Another epic fail.

“These events have had a devastating impact on US production of roadway marking materials,” the report reads glumly.

“Now as the economy has begun to improve, overall demand has increased, but full production has not returned thereby exacerbating shortages.”

The ATTSA consulted chemical manufacturers in hopes of coming up with alternative courses of action for responding to the roadway marking paint crisis.

But no alternatives exist to the current market and conditions.

“Seventy eight percent of manufacturers reported they were having difficulty obtaining resins/binders to produce pavement marking materials while 56 percent reported difficulty in obtaining titanium dioxide,” it said.

The ATTSA suggested alternatives to roadway paint, in the meantime.

These included “temporary markers” and “flexible channelizers.”

“The shortage of materials has not affected tape, so inlay tape could be substituted on new asphalt.”

This year’s dead opossums will have to wait.

1 Comment

  1. Dick Destiny » Rare Earth Epic Fail (continued) said,

    December 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

    […] like Apple, which have their all their electronics kit made overseas. (In a related matter, the US also experienced a road paint shortage this year because of two factors: The economic collapse laying off workers, and the additional shipping of all critical materials […]