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California PaintCare Program: A Successful First Year



Published October 23, 2013
ACA’s California PaintCare program will mark its first anniversary of operations on Oct. 19, and by all accounts, the first year has been a great success. On Oct. 1, PaintCare submitted its annual report to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The report covers the first eight and a half months of the program through June 30, 2013, and details all the operational aspects and successes of the program’s first year, including collection infrastructure, volume and disposition of paint collected, program costs, and education and outreach activities.

In the first year, PaintCare established 495 paint drop-off sites at California paint stores, municipal household hazardous waste programs, and other locations to create a convenient network of drop-off sites. The program collected and processed 632,652 gallons of paint — 96 percent of which was recycled back into paint or used for another beneficial purpose — and recycled 363 tons of plastic and metal paint cans.

ACA’s California PaintCare program is the second and largest program of its kind following ACA’s three-year-old pilot program in Oregon, which was made permanent by legislation passed earlier this year. The programs significantly increase post-consumer architectural paint collection sites and recycling opportunities for residents, small businesses, and other generators of post-consumer architectural paint, and provide substantial cost savings to municipal household hazardous waste collection programs.

In September 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1343, creating the California Architectural Paint Stewardship Program. The statute requires architectural paint manufacturers to develop and implement a program to reduce, reuse, recycle, and properly manage post-consumer architectural paint in the state. ACA created PaintCare, a 501(c)(3) organization whose purpose is to ensure effective operation and efficient administration of paint stewardship programs in the United States on behalf of all architectural paint manufacturers. PaintCare undertakes the responsibility for ensuring an environmentally sound and cost-effective program by developing and implementing strategies to reduce the generation of post-consumer architectural paint; promoting the reuse of post-consumer architectural paint; and providing for the collection, transportation, and processing of post-consumer architectural paint using the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle, and proper disposal.

The take-back program is funded through an assessment on the purchase of new paint sold in California known as the PaintCare Recovery Fee. Any surplus funds must be put back into the program to reduce the costs of the program. Fees range from 35 cents to $1.60 per container, depending on the container size. PaintCare uses the fees to pay for all aspects of the program, including the transportation of leftover paint from partnering drop-off sites to processors for recycling and energy recovery, administration, and educational activities.

PaintCare continues to recruit additional drop-off sites for the program and has the goal of establishing at least 750 permanent drop-off sites in California in the first two years. Consumers and contractors can easily find drop-off sites on PaintCare’s website by entering a city or zip code in the online search tool.

ACA, through PaintCare, is at the forefront of the producer responsibility movement. Producer responsibility means manufacturers take responsibility for reducing the lifecycle impacts of a product, including internalizing the end-of-life management costs, rather than having government set up and fund collection programs for waste products. Legislation mandating the creation of the PaintCare program has been enacted in five additional states: Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2012), Minnesota (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maine (2013). The Connecticut program started in July 2013, and program operations will begin in Rhode Island, Vermont, and Minnesota by July 2014, and in Maine by July 2015.

The PaintCare program will result in the proper management of millions of gallons of leftover paint each year. Paint recycling is now more convenient throughout participating states; many communities that were previously underserved for household hazardous waste services now have new PaintCare drop-off sites. Government programs that partner with PaintCare are realizing a direct financial savings as PaintCare covers the cost of paint transportation and recycling from their programs.

ACA’s PaintCare program is a model for a national system for managing leftover paint; ACA hopes to bring its PaintCare program to all interested states.


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