NY DEC Launches Paint Recycling Program
To help consumers and businesses safely dispose of leftover paint, at the beginning of the month the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation formally announced that a new paint recycling program was underway.
The DEC will oversee the New York State Postconsumer Paint Collection Program; however, the program will be operated by PaintCare.
“Paint products can harm the environment if not managed properly,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York State's Paint Stewardship Program will simplify the process for those looking to dispose of paint by providing a collection network of paint retailers, local government facilities, and reuse stores at more than 300 drop-off sites across the state.”
According to the DEC, the program will accept leftover latex and oil-based paints and similar products at drop-off sites throughout the state. The program is funded by consumer PaintCare fees on the sale of all new paint in New York.
While New Yorkers are asked to call PaintCare sites before dropping off old products to ensure they are open and can be accepted for recycling, a complete list of accepted paints and stains can be viewed here. Additionally, the DEC notes that drop-off sites will accept up to five gallons per customer per visit, with some sites choosing to accept more.
Dropped-off paint should be in the original containers with intact labels that identify the product. Collections will be accepted year-round for all program-approved products, regardless of the date of purchase.
Businesses, organizations, and households with 100 gallons of paint or more to recycle will be able to request a free pick-up at their location, though some restrictions may apply. More information on these cases, as well as a request form, can be found here.
The DEC notes that PaintCare drop-off sites may receive a large volume of paint in the first few weeks of the program's operation. While consumers won’t need to rush to drop of their containers thanks to the program’s year-round operations, PaintCare has also provided a collection of tips for using up and storing paint to preserve its quality.
For more information on the DEC’s Postconsumer Paint Collection Program, click here.
NY PaintCare Program
In July 2019, the New York State Assembly approved legislation establishing a PaintCare program—a paint stewardship program involving paint manufacturers and producers in conjunction with the American Coatings Association.
The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization was established in 2009 and works through a Paint Producer Stewardship Initiative, which is facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute. In August 2021, the program was reported to have collected over 50 million gallons of paint.
New York Assembly Bill A6373 established the PaintCare program within the state, and requires that producers of architectural coatings sold in retail or through a representative organization within the state submit a plan to the commissioner of environmental conservation for the establishment of the program, and forbids a producer or retailer to sell architectural paint unless it has already implemented an approved program plan.
Senate Bill S4351 serves as a companion bill to the assembly program, and was sponsored by Sen. Tom O’Mara (R, C, I-Big Flats). Both bills were approved unanimously on June 5, 2019.
In addition to creating local jobs and encouraging the recycle and proper disposal of unused paint, the legislation also relieves local property taxpayers, as well as mandates the industry-sponsored paint stewardship program and reduces costly responsibilities from local governments accountable for paint collection and disposal services.
To promote fairness and consumer protection, New York’s legislation specifies that all assessment funding must first be approved by an independent audit with rates to cover only the management cost and sustain the program, followed by a submission to the state’s Department of Environment.
On May 1, the New York state Postconsumer Paint Collection Program officially took effect.
NY Paint Recycler Establishes Operations
In April, a latex paint recycling company based out of Colorado started setting up operations in Rotterdam, New York, to reprocess old architectural coatings under the state’s new paint stewardship rules.
GreenSheen has leased 40,000 square feet in the Rotterdam Corporate Park for the recycling facility, with plans to hire 25 people. By August, the paint recycler plans to be operating at 60-70% capacity.
According to The Daily Gazette, the facility operations will be supported by a fee for consumers on paint and certain paint-related products: 45 cents for containers holding 17-127 ounces of paint; 95 cents for 1–2-gallon containers; and $1.95 for larger containers up to five gallons. There is no fee for containers holding less than one pint of paint.
It is reported that GreenSheen established these fees for the cost of running the operation and that they are not fees established by the state for the program.
During the recycling process, GreenSheen filters and purifies waste paint into 18 basic colors and sells the recycled product in 1- to 275-gallon containers. Noted to have an eggshell finish, the acrylic can be used for interior or exterior applications and has a five-year warranty.
While old paint can conjure a negative image in consumers’ minds, Callahan explained that 92% of paint received for recycling is typically is very good condition. Through third-party testing, the company has found that recycled coatings are as good as paint from major manufacturers.
Callahan further explained that this is because much of the paint is from major manufacturers.
As for the steel paint cans, the company also recycles those through a crushing process which is then sold for scrap. Plastic paint buckets are shredded and sold to a paint bucket manufacturer. As part of the stewardship program, GreenSheen accounts for every pound of waste.
Products accepted for recycling at drop-off sites operating through the PaintCare program are noted to be the same products that are subject to the new fee at the time of sale. Specified, acceptable products include:
Callahan predicts that once the facility is operating at full capacity, the New York recycling plant will be larger than all of its other operations combined.