‘It’s a waste’: Advocates push for Massachusetts to join other states that recycle household paint

BOSTON — It seems like just about every basement has something in common: lots of partially used cans of paint.

Twelve states now have paint recycling programs that allow consumers to bring those half-filled cans to drop-off sites.

There’s a push to add Massachusetts to that group.

“It’s kind of a waste of material because latex paint, if it’s less than 10 years old is still usable, it can be recycled into new paint,” said Waneta Trabert, who runs Newton’s recycling program and is working to get a statewide recycling program launched.

A paint recycling program has been in place for 10 years in Rhode Island.

Rocky’s Ace Hardware, which has 27 stores in Massachusetts, has a drop-off site in their Smithfield, Rhode Island store.

Brian Bowler, the chain’s marketing director, said the program is pretty simple for their shoppers.

“They bring it in, our associates will pick it up from them, and put it these special bins that are provided by the state,” said Bowler.

A bill filed on Beacon Hill would allow for a similar program to be implemented in Massachusetts.

A small surcharge on each can of paint sold would fund the program.

Trabert is working with an industry-supported non-profit, www.paintcare.org, to bring their program to Massachusetts if the bill becomes law.

She says, right now, taxpayers are paying a lot of money that they may not realize to dispose of paint.

She believes this approach saves taxpayers money because municipalities would no longer have to deal with disposing of a usable product, or sponsor as many hazardous waste disposal days.

At the end of the day, only people actually buying and using paint would be paying for it to be re-processed.

“We have the potential to reduce our household hazardous waste expenses by about 50% and that really is a savings for everyone,” added Trabert.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts testified against the bill at a State House hearing.

“The reality is we do need a good recycling and collection program for paint, but the paint manufacturers should pay for it, not the consumer,” said Jon Hurst, the association’s president.

He’s also concerned about painters, both residential and commercial, going to New Hampshire to buy their products.

Bowler believes paint recycling is another great service Rocky’s Ace Hardware can provide for its customers.

He also said it could increase sales by creating more foot traffic.

“They might come to us for the first time while they’re dropping their paint off, and maybe they need something for their grill or another hardware piece and they’ll discover what we have in our store.”

In the meantime, Massachusetts homeowners can still dry out their old latex paint and dispose of it in their household trash.

Anything that’s oil-based needs to be brought to a hazardous waste drop-off.

In Rhode Island, it’s estimated almost 800,000 gallons of paint have been recycled since the program was put in place in 2014.

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