Basement paint-can hoarders, it’s time to clean up.
Under a new Minnesota law, more than 120 paint and hardware stores across the state in October started accepting old paint from the public at no charge. Dozens of additional retailers will join the program by summer.
New drop-off stores include Sherwin Williams, Abbott Paints & Carpet, Hirshfield’s, Diamond Vogel, PPG Pittsburgh Paints and Smith Brothers Decorating. Minnesota is the sixth state to adopt the program, which will be managed by nonprofit PaintCare.
Retailers play a key role in the pollution control and recycling program created by the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), retailers and paint manufacturers.
The new law should keep old paint cans out of landfills and snag thousands more out of basements. But it will ultimately cost consumers.
That’s because PaintCare and the state face $6.8 million a year in administrative, collection, transportation and recycling expenses. Those costs will be passed to consumers.
On Nov. 1, prices on new house paint sold in Minnesota rose 35 cents for pints or quarts; 75 cents for one-gallon containers and $1.60 for up to five gallons.
Marty Bergstedt, general manager of Amazon Environmental Inc. in Fridley, said several of his paint customers came in a few days ago to buy five-gallon buckets. “Only one groused a little bit about the higher prices,” he said. “The others were almost universally positive. We put up signs in our store to let people know this was coming. It was supposed to go into effect this summer, but there were some delays, so it happened this month.”
The fees are designed to make paint manufacturers financially responsible for collecting leftover paint and keeping it out of landfills, said PaintCare spokesman Paul Fresina. “It’s part of the whole product stewardship idea,” he said.
Now, under state law, any paint manufacturer selling in Minnesota is required to create “easy-to-use, cost-effective and environmentally responsible programs” to reuse and recycle leftover paint, stain and varnish, he said.
The manufacturers can do that by joining PaintCare and using its recommended surcharges or setting up their own program, Fresina said.
So far, 95 paint manufacturers that sell in Minnesota simply opted to join the PaintCare program. Separately, about 120 paint sellers and hardware stores volunteered to collect consumers’ unused paint.
The retailers are giving Minnesotans more access to safe disposal sites, MPCA spokesman Garth Hickle said. PaintCare retailers created about 60 new drop-off spots in the Twin Cities area and 60 more in the rest of the state.
Old paint reborn as new
PaintCare Program Manager Jeremy Jones said he expects Minnesotans will like the program.
“Homeowners, renters and painting contractors will appreciate the convenience of being able to drop off cans of leftover paint, stain and varnish at local paint and hardware stores” across the state, he said. “Customers will see it as a great service. We expect many more retailers will sign up to be Paint Care drop-off sites in the coming months.”
Old paint collected by hardware stores will be collected by PaintCare and recycled into new paint by outfits such as Amazon Environmental.
Amazon processes 400,000 gallons of used latex paint each year that’s brought in by commercial customers. That old paint is combined, treated with pigments and additives, packaged into new containers and sold to contractors who then paint apartments, schools and offices.
The new state program could increase Amazon’s recycling business 10 to 20 percent, Bergstedt said. If that happens, he’ll keep two temporary workers on the job. “It’ll mean more volume, more work,” he said.