Last week I noticed an unfamiliar charge on the receipt from my local home improvement store. It was a “PaintCare Recovery Assessment Fee” of $.75 for the gallon of latex paint we had purchased.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 10% of all paint purchased In the U.S. becomes leftover, around 64 million gallons annually! Much of this paint is disposed of improperly, leading to contamination of natural resources. And when the leftover paint is brought to hazardous waste collection sites, municipalities have to pay the fee for its proper disposal. This presents a huge problem.
In June, 2011, Connecticut became the third state (following Oregon and California) to pass Paint Stewardship Legislation. Under this law, paint manufacturers would assume the costs of managing unwanted latex and oil-based paints. The program would be funded by a fee paid by the consumer when purchasing paint.
Just over a year ago, on July 1, 2013, PaintCare, a non-profit organization established to represent paint manufacturers to plan and operate paint stewardship programs in the United States, rolled out a program in Connecticut designed to collect and recycle unwanted paint and coatings. Through a network of convenient drop-off locations (designated paint stores, located by entering a zip code on the PaintCare site) consumers can drop off up to five gallons of unwanted oil and latex paint during the store’s normal business hours. This is a big plus for Connecticut residents. In the past they could take oil paint (but not latex) to HazWaste collections at specific days and times (requiring advance planning). They had to completely dry out any unwanted latex paint (sometimes a lengthy process) and then deposit the can in the trash.
The Paint Stewardship Program has a few important rules. PaintCare sites accept house paint and primers, stains, sealers, and clear coatings (e.g., shellac and varnish) but does not accept aerosols (spray cans), solvents, and products intended for industrial or non-architectural use. Paint must be in its original container and the container must have a label and a secured lid. They will not accept open or leaking cans. For a complete list of “Program” or “Non-Program” Products, see this pdf.
I hope you find this a “Thing Worth Knowing.” Check for more stories like these as time goes by.