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Unwanted paint is being recycled and reused

Recycled Paint
Posted at 8:23 PM, Feb 27, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 10% of paint is left unused every year. It's asked companies to find alternative ways to dispose of that paint.

Now, a company is using recycled paint as its business model.

At Up Paint in Lansing, Michigan, tons of "upcycled" paint is manufactured and distributed nationwide.

"We're expecting to be doing 20 to 30,000 gallons a month and then growing from there,” said Dustin Martin, owner of Up Paint. “It's a relatively new market— recycled paint. Every painting project requires you to buy a little bit more paint than what you plan on using. So, all of us are left with some extra paint left over in our house, our apartment basement or garage, and they don't know what to do with that. So, they don't know there's recycling options out there.”

Paint is considered hazardous waste. It can contaminate the environment if disposed of improperly.

“Whether it's a gas or liquid, it can be dangerous for our health and environment,” said Danny Katz with CoPIRG. “Paint is not the kind of thing that you pour down the drain, or trashcan, you want to dispose it in a way that can potentially be repurposed state's program is called PaintCare and it's managed by the paint manufacturer themselves, they kick in a small fee for every can they sell and that money is used for a collection program that is accessible to anyone to bring their paint back to the paint store or collection area."

Up Paint uses PaintCare, which accepts the paint at drop-off sites and they processes it into new paint.

The recycled paint can actually be more affordable— at about $13 less than the average $60 gallon of paint.

"Most of the recycled paint that's being collected, and process is being sold overseas,” Martin said. “But the quality and standard is so good that there's no reason that it can be in the U.S. The quality is comparable to a 60 dollar gallon of paint. We're selling it for less than that since the collection. In our process we are able to sell it for less than it would be otherwise, so people are getting a value for better paint at a lower cost by using recycled paint."

Currently, PaintCare only operates in 10 states, but those involved are hopeful that more states will start to get involved to help cut down on hazardous waste.