A unique Australian scheme to collect and reuse unwanted paint and packaging is creating interest in China.
A 20-strong Chinese delegation was in Melbourne late last week to study the successful Paintback initiative, which has opened 74 collection sites nationwide in its first 18 months and accepted more than 5.3 million kilograms of paint and packaging – equivalent to 7 kilograms every minute.
“Dealing responsibly with unwanted paint to keep it out of landfill is a global issue and ours is the first voluntary, industry-led scheme anywhere in the world,” said Paintback chief executive Karen Gomez. “The Chinese wanted to see all aspects of the process and to talk with trade painters about how it works in practice.”
The visitors inspected a collection site at the Boroondara Recycling and Waste Disposal Centre in Camberwell then toured facilities where paint and packaging are separated for disposal or recycling and solvent paints are prepared for use as a replacement for fossil fuel in cement manufacture in Dandenong.
Led by the Chinese National Coatings Industry Association, the delegation included industry and government representatives. The CNCIA is developing policies to support industry sustainability efforts and key issues that need to be considered as new environmental policies are being developed in China.
“The strength of Paintback is that it both supports and encourages professional and DIY painters not just to do the right thing but to actually think about paint as a reusable resource,” Ms Gomez said.
“Already more than 15 million Australians are no more than 20 kilometres from a free collection site and more sites are opening all the time. In other areas, we provide a mobile service.
“Our goal is to make it normal for people to want to take their paint back, rather than stockpile it or throw it away into the environment, and the response has been quite overwhelming.”
It is estimated that Australians throw away 9 million kilograms of paint and packaging every year.
Paintback was developed by five founding member companies – DuluxGroup, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes and Resene. Between them, they produce more than 30 brands and 95% of the architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.
Launched in May 2016, the scheme is supported by all State and Territories governments, some of which amended their regulations to ensure it could operate nationally.
As well as disposing of paint responsibly, Paintback repurposes valuable materials into recycled packaging, alternative energy and water resources in industrial processes. It also is funding research to find better uses for unwanted paint.
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