Paint recycling initiative looks to grow

An industry supported paint recycling program is aiming to divert more than 45 kilograms of paint and packaging from landfill within four years.

Paintback chief executive Karen Gomez told News Corp the world-first initiative has saved more than 1 million kilograms of unwanted paint, or the equivalent of 100,000 cans of paint, since commencing a year ago.

She said the aim is to boost this to 45 million kilograms by 2021 and to expand the number of recycling depots to more than 100 within a year.

“It’s estimated Australians throw away 7.3 million litres of unused paint every year — enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools,” she said.

“In our first year, we’ve been able to collect about 17 per cent of that amount for safe disposal.”

Ms Gomez said Paintback, which is supported via industry through a 15c-a-litre levy on paint products, has rolled out across 50 sites nationally with around 60 per cent of the population within 20 kilometres of a recycling depot.

“There’s been a very good response from councils we have talked to, we’ve targeted big population areas first because obviously we want to get as big as bang for the buck as possible, but we’re in stage two now, we’re rolling to more regional sites,” she said.

Ms Gomez said 97 per cent of the paint products deposited at Paintback sites are recycled, with solvent paint used as a fossil fuel replacement in the cement industry and water from water-based paint used in industrial processes.

“We want to get 100 per cent reuse, this year we will be initiating our R & D program, our aim is to find a new way of dealing with paint that will one day fund this whole scheme itself, create a new product, make a new paint from old or a completely new product,” she said.

News Corp reported Dulux Group, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes, Resene and Rust-Oleum support the scheme through an ACCC approved levy providing Paintback coverage to nearly 95 per cent of architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.