About 10 percent of paint purchased in New York goes unused, resulting in about 3.9 million gallons of leftover paint each year in the state, according to the Product Stewardship Council. Unfortunately, options to recycle unused paint at point-of-purchase locations or other locations are limited. Instead of being properly disposed of through periodic household hazardous waste collections, unused paint ends up being tossed in the trash, washed down the drain, or incinerated.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, collecting unused paint is a significant cost that is borne by the municipalities that run take-back programs. The overall volumes collected are quite low and much of it is latex paint. Grants are not available for latex paint take-back. In Niagara County alone, 65 percent of materials collected at household hazardous waste drives are paint related. Niagara County ends up spending about $36,000 to manage latex paint (about 2 dollars per gallon) and about $30,000 to manage oil-based paint.
Leftover paint has shown to be a headache for both consumers and municipalities. Similar to take-back programs established for electronic waste, rechargeable batteries, and thermostats, this bill would do much to address the issue of leftover paint.
This bill could be improved to require the manufacturer and not the consumer to bear the cost of the program. It would also be a stronger bill if the approved take-back programs of the manufacturers were required to prioritize reuse and recycling. This could reduce the amount of unused paint that ends up being burned. Finally, program lacks a direct requirement that the manufacturers are charging customers for this program and that there are take-back options available.
The bill amends Article 27 of the Environmental Conservation Law to create a paint stewardship program.