California is launching a new program in hopes of cutting down the 8 million gallons of obsolete paint generated annually. The program will address paint shopping, storage and recycling/reuse options for leftover paint.
The California Paint Stewardship Program is head up by San Joaquin County, with financial assistance from a grant by the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
The state spends $16 million annually to dispose of paint as household hazardous waste (HHW), which amounts to about $8 per gallon in taxpayer money.
California is looking to address the issue at point-of-purchase, citing studies that show consumers purchase too much paint. Another concern is that if paint is improperly stored, it can dry up, making it unusable.
In many states, latex paint can be recycled into new paint. Typically this is not the case with oil-based paint, which must be treated as HHW. If the paint is reusable, it can often be donated to school theater departments or other non-profit organizations.
“Educating retailers and consumers on how to buy the right amount of paint and donate or use-up what is left will cost far less than the taxpayer- and ratepayer-funded collection systems currently in place,” says Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC), the primary contractor for the project.
When recycled, latex paint can become a whole new product. It can be processed to make concrete, cement and other additives. It can also be reprocessed into new paint, or it can be consolidated and reused.
In many states, it is illegal to dispose of paint in the trash or down storm or sewer drains, as it can contaminate drinking water and ocean water. Special collection programs have been established to accept paint for recycling or proper disposal.