Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
How often do you buy a bucket of paint and actually use it all? Often times, half-empty paint buckets end up hogging space in garages or, illegally, in the trash. The (San Joaquin) Record reports that San Joaquin County’s Solid Waste Division spends about $450,000 annually to collect and dispose of excess paint. In an effort to curb these costs, the county has implemented a pilot program that offers residents various drop-off locations for unwanted paint. Ten retail stores partnered with the county to collect up to five gallons of latex (water-based) paint per resident, which is then recycled and resold. Since the program’s launch in March, the county’s drop-off locations have already collected over 2,200 gallons of paint – saving the county over $17,000. The program is intended for residents only, but commercial parties can turn paint and other hazardous materials in at the county’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Funded by a $400,000 grant from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the pilot program also set up nine drop-off locations in Tehama and San Francisco counties. Oregon also launched a similar program this summer, thanks to a statewide paint stewardship law passed in 2009.