The Problem

Every year, Americans generate over 64 million gallons of leftover household paint – enough to fill almost 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Although paint is highly recoverable, reusable, and recyclable, most leftover latex paint ends up in landfills. Oil-based paint, considered hazardous waste, is the most expensive product for household hazardous waste (HHW) programs to manage, costing local governments across the country up to 50 percent of their total HHW budgets. 

A Solution

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws for paint are an effective solution for providing consumers with a responsible and convenient way to dispose of unused paint, while reducing the financial burden on local government. The American Coatings Association, which represents paint manufacturers in the U.S., actively supports EPR legislation for paint.

After seven years of stakeholder negotiations and research facilitated by PSI, in 2011 Oregon passed the nation’s first extended producer responsibility law with full support from the paint industry. Since then, eight states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation modeled after the Oregon law.

Under paint EPR laws, PaintCare, an industry-run non-profit organization, is responsible for the major costs of managing leftover latex and oil-based paint, including transportation, recycling, and processing. In addition to partnering with local government programs to collect paint, PaintCare establishes retail collection locations throughout the state, increasing convenience for consumers and relieving local governments of the financial burden of paint collection. Learn more about PaintCare through PSI’s free, recorded webinars.

Helpful resources:

Direct reuse and reprocessing programs represent a voluntary approach to diverting paint from the waste stream. Refer to NYPSC & PSI’s Paint Reuse Manual (2015) to get started. For a more in-depth look, see PSI’s Guidance Manual for Paint Reuse Programs (2007). Paint reuse is eligible for compensation under paint stewardship legislation.

PSI’s Role in Delivering Solutions

Advocates for EPR legislation

PSI has been at the forefront of advancing paint stewardship legislation in the U.S. for more than a decade. We coordinated industry and government stakeholders through the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative, which conducted eight foundational research projects and developed model legislation.

Today, we advocate for new paint stewardship laws across the country in collaboration with our state and local governments members and industry partners. PSI develops fact sheets to educate stakeholders on current bills. We facilitate meetings with legislators, state and local government, environmental groups, retailers, recyclers, and other organizations to build support for legislation. We also offer expert testimony supporting EPR bills, and help local governments demonstrate support by providing template letters to state decision makers.

We provide exclusive resources for PSI Members and Partners including technical support and key fact sheets for passing paint stewardship legislation– login or learn more.

Provides technical assistance 

PSI hosts frequent webinars on diverse paint stewardship topics that range from introducing the basics of the PaintCare program to discussing unique challenges for rural areas and opportunities for retailers. For the past two years, we have hosted “advanced” webinars to explore topics such as collection convenience and program evaluation.

We support state and local governments in the implementation of both paint EPR laws and voluntary reuse initiatives. In 2014, for example, we conducted a harmonization meeting with six states and PaintCare to develop a standardized annual report template, and facilitated an Oregon stakeholder dialogue meeting to advance the program in the first “paint stewardship state.”

Conducts research

PSI offers research services to inform and shape product stewardship policy. In 2013, we conducted a multi-stakeholder analysis of the Oregon paint stewardship program. We will soon publish an analysis of the California program, and an evaluation of the effects paint stewardship has had on HHW programs nation-wide.

PSI also conducts research in states without paint stewardship legislation to build a strong platform for legislative support. Our analysis of paint infrastructure in Massachusetts provided key data that is used to highlight the need for paint stewardship legislation in the state.

New research initiatives in 2015 focus on measuring and promoting source reduction and public awareness, two challenging issues that will help paint stewardship programs serve as a model for producer responsibility programs around the country.


For more information, please contact Tess Zinnes at (617) 236-4886.

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