Paint Stewardship Law Passes in California

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Last week, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1343 – also known as the paint recovery act – making California the second state in the nation to adopt this type of stewardship legislation.

In 2008, "paint" was the fifth most common search term in Earth911′s recycling database. Photo: Flickr/DRB62

Modeled after Oregon’s paint recycling bill, this measure will require paint manufacturers to develop and implement a program to collect, transport and process post-consumer paint to reduce the costs and environmental impacts of the disposal of post-consumer paint in this state.

Through a program called Paintcare, a nonprofit established through a bill endorsed by the American Coating Association (ACA), the California Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Metro regional governments, the new bill will help recover a significant amount of unused paint for proper disposal.

“This new program will make proper paint management more convenient and provide new resources for consumers for recycling throughout the state,” said Alison Keane, counsel for the American Coatings Association and executive director of PaintCare.

“It will also serve to educate consumers on the importance of buying the correct amount of paint and increasing reuse and proper disposal of remaining unusable paint.”

Post-consumer paint is the largest component of local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs and is costly to manage. In California, post-consumer paint represents 35 percent of the HHW volume collected by local governments. In 2008, more than 26 million gallons of paint were collected in California, costing local governments more than $27 million.

Looking at the country as whole, the U.S. EPA estimates that about 10 percent of all paint purchased becomes leftover – around 64 million gallons annually. The cost for municipalities to manage leftover consumer paint averages $8 per gallon, making paint a half-billion-dollar-per-year management cost.

This pilot institutes a product stewardship model that not only ensures environmentally sensitive end-of-life treatment for leftover paint, but also relieves local and state governments of the economic burden of paint waste management.

Paintcare is funded by sales of paint throughout the state, with fees ranging from 35 cents to $1.60, depending on the size of the container purchased.

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