A new EPA study estimates that about ten percent of the U.S. house paint purchased each year—about 65 to 69 million gallons—is ultimately discarded.
Leftover paint is the largest volume material collected by most
household hazardous waste collection programs and represents a high cost for local governments. Despite existing collection efforts, large volumes of leftover paint remain stored in basements and garages across the country. Yet, leftover paint offers significant potential for reuse and recycling.
The study was released at a national meeting of the Paint Product
Stewardship Initiative (PPSI) on April 18 and 19 in Washington, D.C. This initiative brings together paint manufacturers, retailers,
recyclers, EPA officials and representatives from more than two dozen state and local agencies to find better ways to manage leftover house paint. The PPSI has just completed a two-year, $1 million research program laying the foundation for a nationally coordinated solution.
"This new study fills a critical information gap by defining the scope
of an environmental problem that every American can identify with—what to do with leftover paint," said EPA deputy administrator Marcus Peacock. "The data will help the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative determine the amount of paint available for collection, recycling, reuse and safe disposal."
PPSI is spearheaded by the Product Stewardship Institute, a national nonprofit organization that works in partnership with government, business and other stakeholders to reduce the health and environmental impacts of consumer products.
On March 21, the National Paint and Coatings Association's board of
directors adopted a resolution to support PPSI and work toward the
development of a nationally coordinated system for managing leftover paint.
At last week's PPSI meeting, the stakeholders began the task of fleshing out the details of a nationally coordinated system, including possible roles for paint manufacturers, retailers, government agencies and consumers. The goal is to implement a state-level demonstration program over the next two years, and then to expand that approach to the national level.