What is it?
Paint is widely used as it provides a protective coating for many structures. It creates a barrier against moisture which prolongs the life of the construction materials underneath. It is also a relatively easy way to change the look of spaces in order to make them more appealing. Paint products come in a wide variety of types from water-based latex and acrylic to oil-based alkyd and enamel.
What is the issue?
Conventional paints may be deemed hazardous because some release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as they dry. These chemicals can trigger headaches, allergies, asthmatic reactions, and put increased stress on vital organs such as the heart. The VOCs from solvent and paint emissions can also contribute to harmful ozone formation and a secondary pollutant called peroxyacetyl nitrate, which contributes to the formation of smog. For these reasons, paints can be a source of indoor air pollution.
Where can it go?
In 2006, provincial legislation awarded Product Care Recycling the stewardship responsibilities for the safe and proper disposal of waste paint. The Product Care paint program partners with all SARCAN depots to collect paint for reuse and recycling. They also work with select retailers to be take-back locations. Check out our Waste Reduction Hub for a location near to you. The program is funded by an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) that is charged when the paint is purchased.
What happens after?
Typically, if the paint you bring back to SARCAN is still in good quality, they will put it on the free reuse shelf for other members of the community. In 2015, 20 percent of the paint collected was reused. High quality latex paint is sorted and recycled into new paint. Oil-based paint is typically used as an industrial energy source or concrete additive.
How can I reduce?
- Only buy the amount of paint you will need.
- Painting more than one room the same colour will likely lead to less leftover paint.
- Try using neutral colours, they may be less likely to spark the violent urge to repaint before it is needed.
- Look for recycled and low VOC paint.