Local governments are saving money through their participation in statewide paint stewardship programs, according to the Product Stewardship Institute.
The Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) recently released two reports on paint-recycling programs: One analysis focused on the impacts of paint stewardship programs on local household hazardous waste (HHW) programs, and the other explored the progress of California’s paint program.

Stewardship organization PaintCare currently operates paint stewardship programs in eight states, and the District of Columbia is set to join them in September 2016. The nonprofit group is funded by fees consumers pay when they buy new paint.

“From high retailer satisfaction to increased recycling rates and government financial savings, these reports show that the PaintCare program is working,” Scott Cassel, CEO and founder PSI, stated in a press release. “This program is a prime example of how governments and businesses can work together to realize significant environmental and economic benefits.”

Five-state survey

In the first report, PSI looked at the results of a fall 2014 survey of local HHW program managers in California, Connecticut, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Those were the states that had PaintCare programs at the time.

More than three-quarters of respondents said their paint-related program costs decreased because of their participation in the PaintCare program. Of the programs reporting their costs decreased, three-quarters said they used the savings to offset costs of managing other HHW material or they simply reduced their overall budgets.

On the other hand, many respondents indicated the effort and legal costs of contracting with PaintCare were more than they expected. PSI recommended simplifying and streamlining the contracting process.

“Clear communication between HHW program managers and PaintCare staff at the beginning of the negotiation process to review contracting options and set expectations for liability and insurance clauses is important to streamline the process,” PSI’s report stated.

California’s progress

California, which launched its PaintCare-managed program in October 2012, has seen increases in paint recovery as a result of the program, according to PSI. From 2011 to 2015, paint recovery in California increased by about 20 percent.

The program has also increased drop-off options for consumers. Before implementation of the PaintCare program, the state had 144 drop-off sites for over 37 million residents. By the end of October 2015, the number of drop-off sites had grown to 733.

In a survey, 85 percent of retailers collecting paint under the program said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the state’s paint-stewardship program, according to PSI. An even larger percentage, 88 percent, indicated they would recommend paint retailers in other states participate in a similar recycling program.

In addition to the PSI study, PaintCare recently issued its own report on California for the 2014-15 program year. That document provides additional detail on the state’s program.

Meanwhile, Connecticut has collected 500,000 gallons of used paint for recycling over the past two years, achieving a recovery rate of 4 percent, according to the Republican-American newspaper. The recovery goal for the first two years of the state’s extended producer responsibility program was 6 percent, and it was considered an ambitious goal.