SEATTLE – A new paint recycling program that began on April 1, 2021, in the state of Washington allows households and businesses to recycle leftover paint, stain and varnish conveniently and sustainably. The program is operated by PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created by the paint industry through the American Coatings Association (ACA) to manage leftover paint in states that have enacted paint stewardship laws. PaintCare will provide more than 200 drop-off sites across Washington, which include paint retail stores and locally managed government facilities.
“There has been tremendous effort to create a paint recycling program in Washington state,” said Jeremy Jones, West Coast Program Manager, PaintCare. “We’ve been building and running paint recycling programs in other states for more than 10 years and will leverage this expertise in Washington to deliver a program that meets the needs of households and businesses.”
Washington’s paint recycling program was made possible under the paint stewardship law (SHB 1652), which was passed by the Washington State Legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2019. The law ensures that everyone who produces sells, and uses paint work together to manage its entire life cycle.
How It Works
A small fee — called the PaintCare fee — on the sale of new paint funds all aspects of the program including paint collection, transportation, processing and public education. The PaintCare fee in Washington is the same as in neighboring Oregon and varies by container size: $0.00 for half pint or smaller; $0.45 for larger than half pint up to smaller than one gallon; $0.95 for one gallon up to two gallons; $1.95 for larger than two gallons up to five gallons.
PaintCare makes it convenient to recycle leftover paint by partnering with local government facilities and paint retailers near residential neighborhoods and open at normal business hours. These locations make it easy for households and businesses to find the nearest drop-off site by visiting PaintCare’s online site locator.
Most PaintCare sites accept both latex and oil-based architectural paint products, including paints, stains and varnishes. Paint must be dropped off in its original container with its original manufacturer’s label. A full list of products accepted by the program is available on PaintCare’s website. All sites accept a minimum of five gallons of paint from each customer, some sites may accept more.
Washington’s program follows similar paint stewardship laws in nine other states and the District of Columbia, all built on a model mediated by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) over a decade ago. Passage of the Washington paint stewardship law was made possible by a collaboration among multiple stakeholders, including Washington’s Department of Ecology (Ecology), PSI, the Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) and Zero Waste Washington. The new program is expected to manage more than 1.3 million gallons of paint in its first year.
“We are so pleased that paint recycling is now a reality for Washington State,” said Megan Warfield, Ecology’s Paint Program Lead. “This program is a big step forward for product stewardship in the state. It’s also a testament to the dedication and perseverance of a diverse set of Washington stakeholders from government, industry, and nonprofit communities.”
It is estimated that about 10% of all household paint goes unused. When dumped in the trash or down the drain, leftover paint can contaminate the environment. Although most leftover paint can be reused, recycled into new paint, or repurposed into other products, much of it is trashed because people do not know where to take it or it’s not convenient.
“The PaintCare program is an excellent example of producer responsibility in action and what can be achieved when producers engage with governments, recyclers, and others in a collaborative process,” said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, PSI. “Going forward, the Washington program will divert millions of gallons of paint from landfills, collectively save local governments across the state millions of dollars each year, increase environmental benefits, and boost the green economy.”
PaintCare helps ensure the “highest, best use” for paint collected in the program, including giving away good quality material as-is, recycling it or putting it to another beneficial use. Most of the paint PaintCare receives is latex-based and can be remixed into recycled paint products by processors. To date, PaintCare has processed more than 46 million gallons of paint nationally and saved state and local governments millions of dollars.
Visit https://www.paintcare.org/WA for more information about the PaintCare program or to find a nearby drop-off site.