Member Spotlight: Latex Paint Recycling in Washington State

WSRA Member Highlight: Latex Paint Recycling in Washington State

Guest Post by Peter Thermos, GreenSheen Paint

For years, Washingtonians have been told to dry out their leftover latex paint with kitty litter or paint hardener and throw it out with their garbage. No more! A network of latex paint collection sites has been created where individuals and business can drop off unwanted latex paint for a fee. (Recycling costs and quantity restrictions apply. Please contact the collection site you intend to use for details.)

The new recycling program began with King County’s Take It Back Network adding an option for latex paint. This network now includes 16 collection sites. The strong positive response from collectors and other stakeholders led the recycling company, GreenSheen Paint, to expand the network which now includes 30 sites from Longview to Bellingham. The GreenSheen Paint facility in Kent, WA accepts paint drop-offs for a fee by appointment and with no quantity limit. To find a collection site near you, visit 1-800-RECYCLE or greensheenpaint.com.

In some areas, latex paint collection events are being planned. The City of Kirkland is hosting a latex paint recycling event at Lake Washington Institute of Technology on April 14. Attendees can recycle latex paint for a small cash processing fee per container ($1.25/quart, $2.25/gallon, $12.25/5-gallon). Learn more about the event. Organizations holding events can set their own price to recycle paint. These events are often held as fundraisers for the local PTA or youth sports team.

All collection sites and events accept latex paint, clear coatings and stains only. They do not accept oil-based paint (also known as alkyd paint), aerosol paint, paint thinner or cleaning agents.

GreenSheen paint started in Colorado in 2010 and has expanded to Arizona and now, Washington. GreenSheen recycled almost 4 million lbs. of latex paint in Colorado last year alone. Their recycled paint sells at over 150 retail locations around the country. The price point for recycled paint from GreenSheen is about $16 per gallon – a fraction of the cost of new latex paint.

Paint Stewardship vs. “Pay to Throw”

Eight states, including Oregon and California, have paint stewardship laws in place. These laws require that paint manufacturers must participate in a paint stewardship program as a requirement for selling paint in the state. The same financing mechanism for the program is similar in each state: A fee is added to the price of paint that is sold at retail. The fee is remitted to a product stewardship organization to fund the recycling of the paint and related activities such as transportation, supplies and outreach. In states with a paint stewardship law, there is no charge to drop off leftover paint for recycling at registered collection sites.

For the last several years, Washington State has attempted to pass a paint stewardship bill without success. This new latex recycling program is beginning to demonstrate that individuals and businesses prefer recycling over landfilling. The 2019 legislative session could deliver a blow to the kitty litter industry, if it delivers a paint stewardship law for Washington.

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