For most Napa residents, old paint ends up stacked in the corner of a garage, lids sealed shut, the drips from a long ago painting project the only indication of the color inside.
Until recently the only option for disposing of such paint was to take it to the county’s Devlin Road transfer station where it could be recycled.
But a new program, PaintCare, is making it easier for consumers to get rid of old paint. PaintCare is a nonprofit created by the American Coatings Association.
The program provides paint drop-off sites at selected merchants. The collected paint is then reused, recycled or properly disposed of. For now, the only participating site is the Kelly-Moore paint store, 3199 Jefferson St.
“It’s going really well,” said Alex Deuz, manager at Kelly-Moore. Customers say they like being able to drop off unused paint at the paint store. Contractors leaving old paint make up about 70 percent of those disposing of paint, he said. Both oil and latex paints are accepted.
Deuz said his store has been collecting paint for the program since it began in mid-October. “We’re on our fifth bin,” he said.
Each bin stands about 8 feet by 8 feet by 3 feet and holds about 170 containers of different sizes, from quarts to 5-gallon buckets. The paint is not emptied into the bin itself, but remains in the donated container.
A 2012 state law requires paint manufacturers to develop a take-back system for leftover paint from household and commercial consumers. According to PaintCare, more than 700 million gallons of architectural paint is sold each year in the U.S., and about 10 percent is available for recycling. Until now, leftover paint has been handled primarily by government-run household hazardous waste programs.
The program is paid for by a fee that is applied to the purchase price of paint sold in California that goes to PaintCare. Fees are based on container size and range from .35 cents to $1.60 per can.
PaintCare uses the fees to pay for the transportation of leftover paint from drop-off sites to processors for recycling.
Kevin Miller, materials diversion administrator with city public works department, supports the PaintCare program.
“The system we have is inadequate,” he said.
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The average citizen wants to dispose of old paint the right way, he said. But having to haul it miles out of town to the transfer station on Devlin Road isn’t convenient. While that option still remains for Napans, he likes the idea of being able to recycle paint where you buy paint.
“Used paint is 100 percent recyclable,” he said. “There is no reason any of it should be put down storm drains or sewers or illegally disposed.”
“The partners that provide this deserve some support,” Miller said.
Deuz said word about the program is spreading. “People are clearing out their garages” and bringing in old paint, he said.
About 5 percent of his customers bring in old paint on an average day, but that fluctuates, he said. “Last week the bin got filled up in two days. It’s hard to predict.”
The manager said customers want to know if the program only applies to Kelly-Moore paint. The answer is no, he said.
Owners of any brand of paint should take advantage of the program, he said. “We’re all paying for it.”
Mike Dunn at Devine Paint said the PaintCare fee is added to paint purchases but he’s unable to offer a recycling bin on site.
“I don’t have anywhere to put it,” he said. “I wish I could, but I don’t have the space.”
“I hate sending people to my competitor, but they have a huge warehouse,” with room for a collection bin , he said of Kelly-Moore.
For those interested, he offers customers PaintCare brochures.
“Most people don’t even question it,” he said of the added recycling fee. “It’s like another price increase but at least we’re all in the same boat.”