American Coatings Association

ACA Supports PaintCare Program® at New Mexico Senate Committee Hearing


On Nov. 29, ACA staff testified at a hearing of the New Mexico Senate Water and Natural Resources Committee, in support of PaintCare®, its paint product stewardship program. The informational hearing gave ACA the opportunity to tout the environmental and budget benefits of the industry-run program.  ACA was invited to the hearing by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, which was required to provide a report to the legislature on opportunities to increase recycling in the state.

During the hearing, ACA shared the significant accomplishments of its PaintCare program where legislation in those jurisdictions provided for its establishment. Oregon, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, and the District of Columbia have all implemented the ACA- and industry-conceived platform for the proper and effective management of post-consumer paint. Since program operations began in 2010, PaintCare has:

  • collected over 30 million gallons of leftover paint;
  • established over 1,800 drop off locations for leftover paint;
  • set up approximately 2,600 direct Large Volume Pickups of leftover paint;
  • participated in some 4,000 Household Hazardous Waste Event, and hosted more than 145 paint-only events;
  • registered some 200 paint manufacturers as program participants.

These are no small feats. Leftover architectural paint — the interior or exterior coatings used on homes, businesses and other structures — is often the most common material collected by government-run household hazardous waste (HHW) programs. An estimated 10 percent of the more than 800 million gallons of paint sold each year in the United States goes unused. This leftover paint is a valuable resource that can be diverted from HHW programs for reuse, recycling, energy recovery, manufacturing products or — if the paint is unusable — safe disposal. To achieve this requires a convenient and efficient collection system. Many government HHW programs have collected unwanted paint for years, but the cost remains a burden and diverts resources that could be used for managing other waste materials. For some local governments, it is simply beyond available capacity.

PaintCare is designed to relieve a considerable financial burden on local governments, which currently funds these programs. The program’s success has been so widespread that many state officials and local governments dealing with leftover paint are interested in bringing the program to their states. One of ACA’s goals is to make this legislation consistent across all states so that program implementation can truly be nationally coordinated, and manufacturers and consumers of paint do not have differing programs across state lines.

ACA created PaintCare, a 501(c)(3) organization whose sole purpose is to ensure effective operation and efficient administration of paint product stewardship programs, on behalf of all architectural paint manufacturers in the United States. PaintCare undertakes the responsibility for ensuring an environmentally sound and cost-effective program by developing and implementing strategies to reduce the generation of post-consumer architectural paint; promoting the reuse of post-consumer architectural paint; and providing for the collection, transport, and processing of post-consumer architectural paint using the hierarchy of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” and proper disposal.

During the hearing, ACA explained how the program is underwritten. The funding for the program collected via an assessment fee will cover the cost of all paint — not just new paint sold, but all the legacy paint already in consumers’ basements and garages.

The assessment would also go toward consumer education and program outreach, as well as administrative costs. ACA believes that consumer education is paramount with this type of program since paint is a consumable product. ACA maintains that manufacturers do not produce paint to be thrown away, but rather, to be used up. To work toward a goal of post-consumer paint waste minimization, the consumer must be engaged. PaintCare’s educational program does not just focus on recycling and proper management of unwanted paint, but on buying the right amount of paint and taking advantage of reuse opportunities that can help reduce the generation of leftover paint in the first place.

This is merely the first step in bringing a stewardship program to New Mexico and ACA will continue to work with the local solid waste officials and industry there to forge a path forward for a formal legislative effort.

Contact ACA’s Heidi McAuliffe for more information.