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Barriers to Britain’s Paint Recycling Effort

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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The U.K. generates over 55 million liters of leftover paint, and currently most of that ends up in a landfill or incinerated, according to the British Coatings Federation.

The trade association’s PaintCare program recently conducted a survey of over 400 local authorities to determine the number of challenges faced by Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across the country.

BCF / 2016 PaintCare local authorities survey

Only one in three Household Waste Recycling Centres across the U.K. accept paint, according to the survey.

The 2016 PaintCare local authorities survey found that currently only one in three HWRCs accept paint in the UK.

A national program for leftover paint would depend upon the creation of a robust national collection network, the BCF relates.

Sites that Collect

Of the HWRCs that do collect paint, the survey found half of the paint ends up in a landfill or is incinerated. The other half of the collected paint is sent to a paint recycler or a paint reuse program, the survey revealed.

© / HWRC guide

Paint re-use programs operated by third parties are used at some Household Waste Recycling Centres across the country. Community RePaint Bradford, for example, takes unwanted, usable paint to help local charities and low income families.

The survey also reaffirmed previous research commissioned by the BCF that found sending paint to a paint recycler or remanufacturer presents a 40 percent cost saving to local authorities. The cost saving is largely due to the high cost to incinerate paint as hazardous waste, which is the current practice at many HWRCs.

Cost and Space Challenges

The survey findings from the sites which do not collect leftover paint revealed the following barriers preventing local authorities from taking on a paint recycling service.

Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed stated their reluctance to take on a paint recycling service was due to cost, whilst 25 percent said they do not have enough space on-site. These findings indicate that in order to make a national solution possible, financial support and an increase in on-site storage are essential.

“In order to stop the landfilling of leftover paint, we need a national collection system which householders can use to dispose of their paint, and believe the existing HWRC network is the best driver for this,” said Tom Bowtell, chief executive of the BCF.

“It is clear from the findings of this survey, that any paint recycling or remanufacturing solution for leftover paint will need to take into consideration budget and space implications.”

About the BCF and PaintCare

The British Coatings Federation is the sole Trade Association representing the U.K. paints, printing inks, powder coatings and wallcoverings manufacturers. Its PaintCare program aims to stop the landfilling of leftover decorative paint in the U.K.

In the U.S., a growing number of states have enacted paint stewardship programs for the management of unwanted post-consumer paint through the American Coatings Association's PaintCare effort. 

More information: or email


Tagged categories: Associations; British Coatings Federation; Coatings manufacturers; Environmental Protection; Good Technical Practice; Hazardous waste; Paint disposal; Paint recycling

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