The PaintCare program has recycled more than 1 million gallons of paint since its debut in Oregon in 2010.
Oregon’s product stewardship law for paint, the first of its kind in the country, hit an impressive milestone at the end of its second year: recycling more than 1 million gallons.
PaintCare, a nonprofit that implements paint reuse and recycling programs in states that pass product stewardship laws, collected more than 600,000 gallons during year two of the program. All told, that brings the total collected in Oregon to 1,079,136 gallons since July 2010.
Paint is recycled in a number of different ways, according to Marjaneh Zarrehparvar, the organization’s executive director. Much of it is given to Habitat for Humanity ReStores or processed for reuse through programs like MetroPaint. Some of it is exported overseas, where high-quality American paint is a coveted commodity.
In California, an entrepreneur has started chipping dried latex paint and selling it as landscaping material. Another has determined a method for turning oil-based paint into fuel.
“There are a lot of opportunities to do something with paint,” Zarrehparvar says. “PaintCare is bringing the product out of people’s homes.”
Any paint that cannot be recycled through one of these methods is burned in biomass or other incinerators designed to generate energy. While this form of “recycling” is at the bottom of the waste hierarchy, Zarrehparvar points out that the program has 100% landfill diversion. (See “Reasons Recyclers Should Oppose Incineration” for information on why incinerators present challenges to the natural environment and human health.)
PaintCare has brought additional benefits in Oregon. Metro, the local government organization that handles waste for a three-county region around Portland, estimates it saved $1 million during the first year of the program.
California’s product stewardship law for paint went into effect in October 2012, and Connecticut and Rhode Island are expected to implement their own laws by mid-2013 and mid-2014, respectively. Oregon has proven to be a good test case for these states, Zarrehparvar says, and other communities will surely benefit from the lessons learned during the program’s first two years of existence.
“People are seeing that this [program] can be a public-private partnership that really works,” Zarrehparvar concludes.