CEO Karen Gomez with two trade painters at the Paintback scheme launch

Paintback fills paint product stewardship gap

After the recent launch of Paintback – Australia’s new scheme to recover waste paint and its packaging – its CEO provides an update on the company’s activities to roll out the program.

An incredible race to the start line is how Karen Gomez describes the feeling when standing on stage to launch Paintback on 29 April.

“It was exhilarating. A lot of hard work from the Paintback team and the paint manufacturing companies got us to that point,” says Karen, Chief Executive of Paintback Limited, the company that will manage the scheme. “It was a relief for us to see the plan become reality.”

In front of a room full of industry and government stakeholders in Melbourne, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt officially inaugurated the first unified, national scheme aimed at diverting paint products from landfill.

Despite already being involved with the project for a year, and preparations having started back in 2013, when Karen delivered her opening speech, she described the launch of Paintback as the start – not the end – of the journey. For the CEO, the occasion provided special professional and poignant moments.

“The professional was Minister Hunt’s impromptu invitation to two trade painters, Damien McRyan and Stephen Papdan, to the stage and he delivered a ripper of a speech from the heart,” Karen recalls. “The personal highlight was the surprise arrival of my partner, Phil Allan, who flew in from Canberra to be with me for that important day.”

How the scheme works

Paintback’s design is a world-first product stewardship program developed and implemented by the paint manufacturing sector.

Australians buy more than 100 million litres of paint each year but around 5 per cent is thrown away, making paint and its packaging a major contributor to landfill waste. Paintback aims to tackle the issue by offering professional and home decorators an easy, environmentally-friendly way to dispose of these items. The program aims to divert more than 45,000 tonnes of these products from landfill over the next five years.

“We aim to offer a collection service to 85 per cent of the population within five years,” says Karen.

Paintback will set up about 70 paint- specific collection points over the next two years – starting with 12 in the state capitals through a partnership with Cleanaway. The environmental solutions company provides the expertise and significant national footprint to collect and treat the waste products. A further 15 locations are being targeted for mid-to-late 2016.

To fund the program, DuluxGroup, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes Paint and Resene – which together produce more than 90 per cent of all architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia – will add 15 cents a litre to the wholesale price of their products. Other manufacturers will also be invited to participate.

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