Stirring Innovations in Paint Disposal

What to do with the left over paint after completing the job is a perennial problem. Jeff Pura, Director of Tammura Colours and Handycan Products, delved into this age-old issue and came up with some practical solutions…

Question: What lies rusting and unused in over 80% of backyard sheds and garages in Australian residences?

Ecorecycle Victoria in conjunction with local councils runs regular free household paint and chemical collections
Answer: Paint cans, of course. And they are usually anywhere between one-quarter to three-quarters full. Figures released some time ago revealed the above facts. Our sheds and garages are brimming with leftover paint. About 5% of our sheds contain full and untouched cans of paint. Some years ago I purchased several 4 litre cans of paint to complete, with the greatest of good intentions, the installation of wooden insect screens on our windows. That job is still to be started! Maybe this summer…

I’m sure that story will strike a chord with many readers. There can be no doubt that the majority of us purchase more paint than we need. A visit to any large paint retailer will reveal why. The big manufacturers are concentrating more on larger volume cans and pails. You can see the 20s (litre pails) and 10s stacked like pyramids with ‘Special Deal’ advertisements to entice the weekend house painter and DIYer. Our prices per litre are close to the best deals in the world and there is no doubt that a 20 litre of acrylic undercoat will be sufficient for three or four rooms and a hallway. The 4 litre cans are not forgotten. Tinted shades and heavier pigmented colours for feature walls and architraves are purchased to save money on volume, without any real effort by the amateur painter to properly estimate the proper amount required usually for ‘touch-up’ type projects.

So, what can be done to rid our sheds of these cans that are steadily gathering dust or rusting away? For those cans that have only about one-quarter to one-third of leftover paint, most local councils will advise you to leave the lid off, let it fully harden and then scrape out the dried material. That can be wrapped in newspaper and then put out with the rest of the weekly garbage. The householder can now dispose of the virtually empty can in the council’s half-yearly, hard-rubbish collection.

Regrettably, large volumes of acrylic paint are still flushed down the outside drain or laundry sink, when the brushes and rollers are washed. This is certainly illegal and can incur heavy fines if the offender is detected. Industry is not permitted to do it, neither should the householder.

About seven years ago, Ecorecycle, a subsidiary company of Environment Victoria, a State Government Department, was established to specifically manage the disposal and clean up of products from a large cross-section of industry groups.

The concept of ‘Product Stewardship’ was formed. This is about recognising the shared responsibility of the lifecycle of a wide variety of products from their manufacture through retail and ultimate disposal from the end user.

To learn more about Product Stewardship and Ecorecycle, read the rest of the article in the August edition of the Australian Hardware Journal.