On Jan. 14, ACA testified before the New Hampshire House Environment and Agriculture Committee in support of HB 1570, “An Act Establishing a Paint Stewardship Program.” Introduced on Jan. 8 by five Democrats, HB 1570, if enacted, would bring the PaintCare® program to New Hampshire. Since 2008, Oregon, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, and Maine have enacted the ACA- and industry-conceived platform for the proper and effective management of post-consumer paint. On Jan. 15, ACA also testified on similar legislation before the Washington House Committee on Environment, H.B. 1579, “An Act Relating to Paint Stewardship.” Last February, ACA testified before the Washington Senate Environment Committee in support of the Senate companion bill, S.B. 5424, “An Act Relating to Paint Stewardship.”
In its testimony in both New Hampshire and Washington, ACA noted that the association, along with its industry, is committed to finding a viable solution to the issue of post-consumer paint, which is often the number one product, by volume and cost, coming into Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) programs. ACA also pointed to the resounding success of its PaintCare® pilot program in Oregon, as well as the more than a of success of similar programming in Canada.
ACA believes that PaintCare® legislation will also be pursued in Colorado, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Other states that have expressed interest are Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. The program has been very successful –many state and local governments dealing with leftover paint are interested in bringing the program to their state. One of ACA’s goals is to make this legislation consistent across all states so that program implementation can truly be nationally coordinated and manufacturers and consumers of paint do not have differing programs across state lines.
ACA created PaintCare®, a 501(c)(3) organization whose sole purpose is to ensure effective operation and efficient administration of paint product stewardship programs, on behalf of all architectural paint manufacturers in the United States. PaintCare® undertakes the responsibility for ensuring an environmentally sound and cost-effective program by developing and implementing strategies to reduce the generation of post-consumer architectural paint; promoting the reuse of post-consumer architectural paint; and providing for the collection, transport, and processing of post-consumer architectural paint using the hierarchy of "reduce, reuse, recycle," and proper disposal.
The program is designed to relieve a considerable financial burden on local governments, who currently fund these programs. Of the $3.3 million spent on expenses in just the first year of the program in Oregon, 83 percent went back out to Oregon service providers, both municipal and private, as a direct cost savings to taxpayers. Portland Metro, alone, reported that the total benefit of the PaintCare® program in that region of Oregon was in excess of $1 million a year.
ACA underscored that legislation is necessary for implementing the program because it provides two necessary elements for the paint industry to institute a product stewardship program. “These elements are a level playing field among all producers and retailers, and the need for a sustainable financing system engaging the consumer,” stated ACA testimony. “Unless all manufacturers and retailers participate in the program, and participate in a uniform manner, this type of program could lead to competitive advantages and disadvantages within the industry and among producers and retailers. In addition, when it comes to financing a system such as this, competitors cannot agree on the ‘price of products or services’ even for a good cause, without running afoul of anti-trust regulations. This bill ensures a sustainable financing system for the program, where all architectural paint manufacturers selling in Washington will fund the program through an assessment added to their current price of paint.”
The assessment will be uniform and will then be passed down through wholesale and retail sales of paint in the state in order to ensure competitive disadvantages do not occur, particularly to state manufacturers and retailers. This assessment will be used to fund paint collection, reuse, recycling, and disposal activities — not only in the areas that are now being serviced, but in additional underserviced areas of the state, as well. As such, ACA emphasized that consumers who did not have access to these programs, or who had to pay additional fees for such services (e.g., painting contractors) would be entitled to use the program at no additional charge. That means that consumers will have more places to take leftover paint, and contractors will now have the opportunity to drop off leftover paint for recycling and proper disposal without having to pay a fee at the point of collection.
The funding for the program will cover the cost of all paint — not just new paint sold, but all the legacy paint already in consumers’ basements and garages.
The assessment will also go toward consumer education and outreach for the program, as well as administrative costs. ACA noted that consumer education is paramount with this type of program, since paint is a consumable product. ACA maintained that manufacturers do not produce paint to be thrown away — it is not inherently recyclable — but to be used up. In order to work toward a goal of post-consumer paint waste minimization, the consumer must be engaged. PaintCare®’s educational program does not just focus on recycling and proper management of unwanted paint, but on buying the right amount of paint and reuse opportunities that can help reduce the generation of leftover paint in the first place.
To further ensure fairness and consumer protection, the bill specifies that the assessment funding the program must be approved by an independent audit submitted to the state Department of Environment/Environmental Services and must be set at a rate to cover only the cost to manage and sustain the program.
ACA worked with the states’ Department of Environment/Environmental Services, as well as the states’ local waste authorities, HHW program managers, and Product Stewardship Councils and other stakeholders to refine the legislation from previous iterations.