Recycling Paint Boston MA
Try this exercise: Go to your basement and inspect every can of old paint you have. Estimate how much is left in each, then add it all up. How much do you have? Five gallons? Ten? You may not use all that paint yourself, but it doesn't have to stay there or be thrown away. Whether the paint is oil-based or latex, someone in your community could have a use for it. Check with your local government or recycling center; many sponsor programs that collect paint for use by others. If that's not the case in your area, simply ask your friends, colleagues or neighbors if they have any use for it. Even with such efforts, there is a lot of unused paint in the land. So some municipalities and companies are tackling the problem another way: by recycling it. Companies are springing up across the country that take leftover latex paint, sort it by color and quality, then combine it into a reprocessed product that is sold for much less than the cost of non-recycled paint. One such company - in fact, one of the largest - is Amazon Environmental (www.nvo.com/amazon/door), which operates recycling plants in Whittier, Calif., and Roseville, Minn. Amazon collects paint at recycling centers, sorts and filters it, then blends it with new paint to produce a high-quality finished product. How much new paint depends on the color and type of the recycled paint being used and what kind of finish is desired; eggshell and semi-gloss require more virgin material than does a flat finish. The paint is sold in six basic colors and ranges from 20 percent to 95 percent recycled content, says John Segala, vice president and general manager of the Minnesota facility. In Minnesota, the product is sold directly to users, usually contractors and government agencies, but the California plant distributes its paint exclusively through Dunn-Edwards Corp., which sells it in six western states under the brand name Recover. The reprocessed paint is sold in 2-, 5- and 55-gallon containers and is fully warranteed for quality. The cost savings, especially for big users, can be dramatic. Segala said the Minnesota operation charges $25 for 5 gallons of paint that would sell for as much as $60 if it were not recycled. Even paint that doesn't measure up can be recycled. Paint that is off-color, sour, solid or otherwise unusable is used by Amazon to make its patented processed latex pigment, an additive used for portland cement mixtures. Paint recycling is in its infancy. There isn't enough processing capacity to handle the sea of old latex being taken to U.S. dumps, and municipalities have to subsidize participation because companies can't yet make a profit on the paint sales alone. Segala is optimistic that change is coming. "If we can develop a market for recycled paint, that waste stream has some value," he said. "Then I can make money from selling paint instead of charging to take it in. To the extent we can do this, everyone will win."