Environmental Health, and Safety
This month I wanted to share some information on paint management and recycling. The EPA estimated that Americans discard as much as 69 million gallons of paint each year. All of that unrecycled paint heads straight to our landfills, often unnecessarily. California, as well as seven other states, are part of a paint stewardship program, PaintCare, led by the American Coatings Industry that allows for the free disposal and recycling of unwanted, usable paint.
What is PaintCare and How Does it Work?
What is PaintCare?
- As of October 2012, a California law requires paint and coating manufacturers to develop a financially and environmentally sustainable solution for post-consumer paint, and make recycling more convenient by setting up hundreds of drop-off locations.
- PaintCare was set up by as a non-profit 501(c)(3) paint stewardship organization to implement the new law. Follow this link to the PaintCare web page.
- The program is fully funded by consumers (included in retail price of paint)
- The program reduces hazardous waste generation rates and disposal costs while promoting recycling and reuse.
Who Can Use the Program and What is Accepted?
- The program is open to most businesses and residents.
- If a business produces more than 27 gallons of hazardous waste per month, only latex paint can be accepted
- Architectual paint or "Program Products" are defined as interior and exterior architectual coatings (such as water and oil based paints, clear coatings, field and lawn coatings, sealers, stains, etc.)
- Containers of 5 gallons or less, in their original container, in good condition (lid installed, no leaks)
- Does not include aerosol paint, industrial coatings, solvents, marine/automotive paints, paint additives, etc.
What Happens to the Paint?
- Latex and oil based paints are separated and graded based on condition of the product
- Latex paints are sold "as is" or mixed into new paint in standard pre-tinted colors
- Oil based products are blended into a fuel and burned at manufacturing facilities.
- Very little paint is sent to the landfill (about 1-4%)
Where Do I Take My Paint?
- Drop off sites are located throughout the Bay Area at most paint retail stores
- Use the PaintCare site locator to find a drop-off location near you
- Drop-off sites may establish limits on the quantity of products they accept. Call ahead!
Paint must be in its original container, sealed with a lid, and not leaking
Paint that is left out and dries up no longer meets acceptance criteria. Keep your paint covered to ensure it can be re-used or recycled. Leaving unwanted paint cans out to dry and then thrown in the trash is not an acceptable management strategy.
Getting rid of unwanted paint that has collected over the years can free up storage space. You can reduce the volume of paint on-hand by keeping only what you need for touch ups and repairs.