A Cleanaway Paintback collection truck

The Last Word: Cleanaway’s Paintback partnership

Cleanaway General Manager – Liquids Blake Senior talks about the company’s new collaboration with Paintback to tackle one of the country’s priority waste challenges.

A 2011 report prepared for the government found Australians generated on average 2.2 tonnes of waste per person, 60 per cent of which was recycled or recovered.

The report indicated that increases
in income and urbanisation affect the quantity of waste generated. So we can presume that as more people move into urban centres, and as our standard of living increases, so too will our waste.

Our industry faces the dual challenges of growing volumes of waste and more educated consumers, who expect an increasingly sustainable solution.

Cleanaway is ready to meet this challenge, with our national footprint and depth of expertise to support industry, business and communities. Bringing the entire operation together under a single reinvigorated brand earlier this year has reinforced our capacity to develop and deliver a streamlined range of sustainable waste management solutions.

When Paintback launched in May, Cleanaway was the natural partner. The world-first program developed and implemented by the Australian paint manufacturing industry offers professional and DIY painters an easy option to dispose of waste paint and packaging responsibly.

Supported by its founding members, who together produce more than 90 per cent of all paint sold in Australia, the program is funded by a levy of 15 cents per litre to the wholesale price of their products. This essentially covers disposal costs at the point of purchase. In its collaboration with Cleanaway, Paintback aims to collect more than 45,000 tonnes of waste paint over the next five years, significantly reducing the amount going to landfill and maximising the inherent value of the recyclable materials.

Processing the paint products

A dozen Cleanaway sites are already collecting waste paint alongside a growing number of council sites. Once collected, the waste paint will be sent to Cleanaway’s liquid treatment plants for processing, where specialist equipment will crush the tins and extract the paint for processing and treatment.

Waste elements from water-based paint will be processed before beneficial reuse through composting, while waste elements from solvent-based paints
(an estimated 10 per cent of expected volumes) will be used as an alternative fuel source for a local cement manufacturer. The plastic and metal paint packaging will also be recovered and recycled.

Aiming to reach 85 per cent of the population within five years, Paintback is an exciting step forward in the responsible management of waste. Not only is this an exercise in simplicity and accessibility, but also in affordability and, importantly, innovation, as the scheme will fund new research into better uses for unwanted paint.

It will only be through this combination of factors that will we be able to drive the continued evolution of our industry and enable more product stewardship programs.

Manufacturers and environmental solutions experts working together will not only deliver sustainable solutions but also engage Australian industry, business and communities to make a sustainable future possible.