Contrary to what many people think, mirrors are not that easy to produce and not all mirrors are created equal. The basic principle seems simple: to make a mirror, a thin layer of silver is poured onto a glass plate that has been thoroughly cleaned and degreased. The silver adheres to the glass, making it reflective. Finally, two protective coats of paint are applied over the layer of silver.
Often, a little bit of lead would be added to the protective paint to prevent the silver layer from oxidising. That’s what causes those black edges often seen on old mirrors. Initially, the paint contained as much as 7 or 8 percent added lead, and a layer of copper was applied for better adhesion and protection as well. In 1995, our Zeebrugge plant produced the first mirrors without copper, a revolutionary idea at the time. The next step came in 1997 with the introduction of AGC’s environmentally friendly MNGE mirror, in which the lead content of the base coat of paint was reduced to just 0.3%.
Working in close collaboration with our paint supplier, we managed to eliminate even that last remaining bit of added lead. The result is Mirox 4Green, a totally environmentally friendly mirror that anticipates future European regulations as we continue striving to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Technically speaking, through the complex upgrading of multiple steps in the process, we have now achieved a lead-free mirror that has no increased oxidation risk.
More and more companies are looking for zero-lead solutions for their products. The environmental approach is in their DNA. Eliminating the lead also improves recycling options and allows the product to obtain a prestigious environmental certification. While the AGC MNGE mirror is Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Bronze, Mirox 4Green is Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Silver thanks to the new composition. This environmental benefit prompted us to position Mirox 4Green as a premium product, which is indicated on the processed mirror by a lead-free sticker.