The Australian paint recycling industry was started by Karen Gomez 5 years ago. Before that time, there was no network for paint recycling in Australia - and apart from surreptitiously (illegally) tipping the stuff down the drain, most users had nowhere to put surplus paint. The paintback scheme is supported by paint manufacturers through a 15c-a-litre levy on paint products. Commercial painters and DIY can use the scheme, dropping off up to 100 litres per visit.
Paintback research shows that while one in three Australians (36%) have paint stored away, more than half (54%) didn’t know there were organisations to help them dispose of unwanted paint.
"AUSTRALIANS BUY MORE THAN 100 MILLION LITRES OF PAINT EVERY YEAR. ABOUT 5 PER CENT OF THAT IS SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS AND NEEDS A SAFE DISPOSAL PATH."
After collection, paint is sent to a processing centre where the paint packaging and waste liquid are separated. The containers are recycled, subject to contamination.
Solvent paint can be used as an alternative energy source. For acrylic paint, the water is separated from acrylic paint, with the by-product used in a variety of industrial applications significantly reducing landfill.
It's both straightforward and free. If you can’t re-use your paint, drop it off free of charge to a paintback site, give your paint a second life and keep a bunch of pretty dreadful chemicals out of our waterways. As much as possible choose low or no VOC paints.
A better option than recycling is to not need to do it in the first place. Switch to a non toxic lime based paint. Mineral paints from places like Bauwerk Colour are way safer for your health. These kinds of paints are made traditionally with clay, minerals and beautiful natural pigments. It not only means you can paint without fumes, but wash-up and disposal is safe and non-polluting.