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Solving the Paint Disposal Problem

Part of the process of cleaning up, finding a place to safely dispose of leftover paint can be a challenge for many paint customers. PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created by paint manufacturers, operates paint stewardship programs in some states that provide a solution for the problem of leftover paint. 

The organization encourages consumers and businesses to reuse and recycle leftover paint by setting up paint retailers and other businesses as convenient drop-off sites. While not yet available everywhere, PaintCare currently operates in nine states and the District of Columbia and will launch a New York program in early 2022. 

Paint retailers make up 77 percent of PaintCare’s 1,750 drop-off sites. Brett Rodgers, director of communications for PaintCare, says retailers who participate in the program as a drop-off site benefit in numerous ways, including increased foot traffic into the stores. 

“While we don’t yet have data to show what the change in store traffic has been after becoming a drop-off site, many of our sites report more people come into stores to drop off paint, creating an opportunity to convert new customers,” Rodgers says. 

Another benefit is additional exposure and advertising through the PaintCare program. Every paint store that serves as a drop-off site is listed on the map on the PaintCare website. PaintCare also does additional advertising of individual paint stores as part of public education for the program, says Rodgers.

Rodgers says many retailers appreciate how the program benefits the environment and provides a convenient service to customers. 

“Many stores are part of small communities that might not have a lot of other options, and they like being the ones providing this service,” says Rodgers. “Another hidden benefit is differentiation, being one of the only places in the area that offers this service. It gives customers one more reason to use that paint store.” 

Rodgers says PaintCare strives to make it as easy as possible for paint stores and other retailers to participate in the program by offering training and dedicated staff in every state where the program operates. 

“Retailers think there will be a lot of extra cost or labor on their part, but there isn’t,” Rodgers says. “We provide all the training and marketing materials, supply all the collection bins and haul all the paint away as often as a site needs. We make it really easy for retailers to be a part of the program and offer this service to their customers and communities.”

Paint manufacturers in PaintCare states add the PaintCare fee to every gallon of eligible paint they sell to retailers. This fee covers the costs of the program, including collection, transportation, and processing of leftover paint. Manufacturers pass the fee to all distributors and retailers, who pass the cost on to the consumer at the time of purchase. 

Paint stores in states with paint stewardship laws must apply the fee to the purchase price of paint, but are not required to serve as a drop-off site, says Rodgers. 

“The fee goes toward running the program,” says Rodgers. “The fee also makes it possible for consumers to dispose of any paint, even products made before the program started.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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