Huffman's new program makes it easy to recycle leftover paint

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By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal

Posted: 12/31/69, 4:00 PM PST | Updated: on 10/19/2012

Veteran San Rafael painting contract Nick Kunst says a new program making it easy for consumers to recycle leftover paint is a good thing for Marin County.

"It's a positive for the environment and the world we live in," Kunst said, adding that a fee imposed on paint purchases appears to be a small price for Kunst Bros. Painting Contractors to pay in light of the consumer and environmental benefit.

"I just came in from an estimating job this morning and the lady said she wanted to make sure we used green products, and I told her, 'That's all we use. This is Marin County,'" Kunst said.

The new statewide recycling program, created by legislation by Assemblyman Jared Huffman requiring manufacturers to take back leftover paint from consumers, was launched Friday as a nonprofit agency was established to administer the details.

The California Paint Stewardship Program established by Huffman's AB 1343 will be implemented by paint manufacturers through PaintCare, a nonprofit created by the industry's American Coatings Association. The operation will be funded with a 75-cent surcharge imposed on a gallon can of paint, with fees varying depending on size of the container sold. There is no fee for a half-pint or less.

The program is so new that employees at several outlets selling paint in Marin expressed surprise; others said they are studying what to do, and several said they will set up recycling bins provided by the program or will consider doing so.

"It's something that has to be done," said John Carleton, manager of the Kelly-Moore Paint outlet in San Rafael, adding he is awaiting delivery of a PaintCare bin into which customers can deposit old paint. As soon as the store collects 120 gallons, PaintCare will pick it up for recycling, he said. "This way, that old paint is going to be recycled and re-used," he noted.

The Tamalpais Paint and Color outlet in Mill Valley has no room to accommodate the program, and the firm's store in Corte Madera is "still looking into it," according to owner Rob Martin. "It just started," he noted.

An employee at Pini Ace Hardware in Novato said space there will be an issue as well, but added officials are reviewing the program.

Oregon has a similar program, with California the second state to get aboard. More than 700 million gallons of paint are sold each year across the nation, but most recycling efforts have been left to sporadic hazardous waste programs on weekends.

Products accepted under the program include paint sold in containers of up to five gallons, deck coating, primers, sealers, stains, shellac, lacquers, varnishes, urethanes, rust preventatives and waterproofing sealers. The program does not handle aersol sprays, paint thinners, auto and marine paints, art and craft paints, caulking compounds, wood preservatives or roof patch and repair material.

"This is an important program that will make paint recycling more convenient for Californians, reduce the financial burden on local governments, and protect the environment," Huffman said in a statement trumpeting the effort. "It allows industry to take the lead in developing a safe and reliable system for the recovery and proper management of leftover paint."

Marjaneh Zarrehparvar, CEO of PaintCare, said his agency will make paint recycling easy by setting up "hundreds of new paint drop-off sites at retailers throughout the state."

But until the program gets into full gear, consumers with paint to recycle may consult a list of drop-off sites that is still being compiled at www.paintcare.org.