Paint disposal scheme celebrates one year of operation

By Sustainability Matters Staff
Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

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An Australian initiative to keep waste paint out of landfill has been an immediate success, with the industry-run Paintback scheme collecting more than one million kilograms of unwanted paint in its first year. It is said to be the first unified national scheme anywhere in the world to be developed and voluntarily implemented by industry.

The scheme was made possible by the ACCC giving regulatory approval for DuluxGroup, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes and Resene to add 15 c/L to the wholesale price of their products to fund it. Rust-Oleum and Crockers Paint have since signed up to the scheme, increasing Paintback’s coverage to more than 95% of architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

Fifty Paintback depots have already opened, covering all capital cities and major regional centres, with more to be established over the next two years. There is no charge to dispose of paint or packaging at any designated Paintback depot, and the scheme is open to anyone.

“Our goal is to make it normal for people to want to take their paint back, rather than stockpile it or throw it away into the environment, and the response has been quite overwhelming,” said Paintback CEO Karen Gomez.

“It’s estimated Australians throw away 7.3 million litres of unused paint every year -— enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools. In our first year, we’ve been able to collect about 17% of that amount for safe disposal.”

The scheme aims to recover 90% by volume of all unwanted paint and packaging collected, diverting a total of more than 45 million kilograms of paint and packaging from landfills by 2021. It has the support of the Commonwealth Government and of all states and territories, which have amended regulations to allow trade painters to use the same system as DIY painters.

“The trade previously could not use government-run schemes, which target households, and so to dispose of paint safely they had to use commercial disposal services, which can cost as much as $4 a litre,” Gomez said. “The alternative is stockpiling or illegal dumping.”

Paintback also is investing in research to identify technologies that will better capture valuable resources from unwanted paint, reduce its environmental impact or turn it into something new and useful, such as building material.

Image credit: ©admias/Dollar Photo Club

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