Unwanted Paint and a Product Stewardship Solution ...
The Problem: Leftover paint is a high volume, costly, and wasted resource. Oil base paint is highly toxic and can have detrimental health and environmental impacts.
estimated 64 million gallons of leftover consumer paint was generated in the
U.S. in 2000.
Paint Product Stewardship Initiative (PPSI) has estimated the cost for local
governments to manage leftover consumer paint averages approximately $8 per
Waste: Due to
the high cost of managing leftover paint, some local governments have decided
to not accept latex paint, which makes up 70-80% of leftover paint. Leftover
paint is a resource that still has value when made into recycled-content paint
(RCP) – which reduces the amount of raw materials that need to be extracted and
processed to manufacture new virgin paint.
Oil-based paints are highly toxic and can harm fish and wildlife, as well as
pollute groundwater if dumped on the ground. If used in closed areas, volatile
organic compounds in paints can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs and cause
headaches and nausea. They can also contribute to asthma, other respiratory
problems, muscle weakness, and liver and kidney damage. Latex paints are less
toxic and not considered hazardous, but excess paint should not be poured down
Product Stewardship Solutions
Paint manufacturers, retailers,
and others can work together to reduce the amount of unwanted paint and manage
leftover paint properly.
Back Programs: Manufacturers can set up statewide "take-back"
locations to collect unwanted paint and increase the recycling rate of paint
where possible. Local and state governments can help to publicize these
There are several states that have enacted Product Stewardship legislation for
paint in the U.S. and many provinces in Canada. Typically, the paint
manufacturer finances and provides the take back program via a Product
Stewardship organization such as PaintCare. An "assessment" is
included in the price of the product that the consumer pays when they buy their
paint. The manufacturer is responsible for meeting specific performance goals
such as providing convenient, accessible collection locations throughout the
state. Local and state governments help to publicize the program while
retailers and consumers take an active role in ensuring that paint is properly
Manufacturers can improve the design of paint by reducing the toxic components
and volatile organic compounds contained in paint.
Development: To effectively close the loop on recycling paint, there needs to
be significant market demand for the recycled paint at a price that supports
the recycling system plus reasonable profit. Manufacturers and retailers can
advertise and sell recycled paint in their retail stores.
Stewardship: Illinois could gain financial benefits of $17 million annually on
the collection and management of nearly 2.2 million gallons of leftover paint
every year. This cost typically represents 50% of municipal household hazardous
waste budgets. Illinois has a unique opportunity to enact paint stewardship
legislation in partnership with the paint industry. This opportunity to work together
to save money for Illinois' state and local governments is the result of a
national, multi-stakeholder agreement facilitated by the Product Stewardship
Institute (PSI). A statewide paint stewardship program would mean that the
paint industry would be responsible for collecting and managing leftover paint
in Illinois, reducing the role of government and the burden on taxpayers.
Benefits of paint stewardship
in Illinois would include:
Reduced government cost;
Green sector jobs - more in-state jobs would be
created in the paint industry;
Less disposal, more recycling - more paint would
be diverted from disposal facilities and recycled, which helps the State reach
its recycling goal; and
Less waste - the industry would educate the
public to buy the right amount of paint for a project and reduce waste.