SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Representative Donna M. Walsh (D—Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly) has introduced new legislation calling for the creation of a state recycling program for unused, oil and latex-based paints. House bill H 7233A has identified PaintCare, a not-for-profit organization created by the American Coating Association (ACA), to spearhead the program.
“I’ve been advocating for years for legislation that gives manufacturers some responsibility for what happens with the waste their products ultimately create, because it would give them incentive to make them in ways that result in less waste,” said Walsh. “This is a fantastic opportunity to institute that idea for one industry that is voluntarily creating the program on its own.”
ACA, through PaintCare, would be responsible for administering the unused paint recycling program, funded through a surcharge applied to the current price of paint. This charge, or assessment, will be passed down through both wholesale and retail prices to reduce the potential for competitive disadvantages among manufacturers and retailers. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) would approve the setting of any surcharge, which would not exceed the cost of the program.
“PaintCare will have to communicate very clearly to consumers that the nominal fee being assessed is going directly to pay the cost of recycling the paint,” said Sarah Kite, Director of Recycling Services at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). “If consumers feel that the fee is being used to subsidize an inefficient or poorly run program, they may be unwilling to support the fee. PaintCare will need to clearly describe how the program will work, and will need to show where the money will go.”
The assessment will specifically fund unused paint collection, reuse, recycling and disposal. PaintCare has already established a recycling program in Oregon, where 469,665 gallons of paint were collected in its first year from 100 sites. Similar legislation has been passed in California and Connecticut, and those states will see an unused paint recycling program in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
PaintCare’s paint recycling program is expected to provide benefits for the state, businesses, and consumers on a number of fronts. Unused paints are currently collected through the state’s Eco-Depot program, and the new recycling initiative would reduce environmental impacts. The program also removes the cost of recycling unused paints from RIRRC, the state’s waste management organization.
“One of the misperceptions out there is that the current program, RIRRC’s Eco-Depot, is also available to businesses, which is not the case,” said Kite. “Eco-Depot is for household hazardous waste only. We’re not allowed to accept business household hazardous waste, including leftover paint from contractors, according to DEM’s regulations.”
“The legislation proposed by PaintCare would allow for more access to paint recycling because the drop-offs would be at retail locations across the state,” she added. “Drop-off would be made even more convenient because the consumer would be able to drop-off unwanted leftover paint anytime during a retail establishment’s hours of business, presumably seven days a week.”
Only paint manufacturers who participate in the program, however, will be allowed to sell paint products in Rhode Island. Jeffrey Taylor, Vice-Chairman of the Mayforth Group, representatives of the ACA, also stated that ACA has not received any objections from major paint manufacturers across the country regarding the program, most of which are members. Walsh’s legislation includes a public education and outreach component in order to apprise the public about reducing post-consumer paint waste as well as the its role in the program.
“We’ve heard criticism from other entities about the concerns how it will work, who will be running it, and in stores that might be reluctant to participate,” said Taylor. “[PaintCare] is voluntary, so retailers that don’t want to participate don’t have to. Other concerns regard the language of the bill, and I think we have addressed those concerns.”
“The bill that is in the form that is in now is reflective of the significant number of changes from the departments and environmental groups that have weighted in at this point,” he added.
The bill awaits review and potential acceptance before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.