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State starts paint recycling program


There are numerous nearby places to recycle paint. Use to find the places near your town that accept paint.

Old paint cans — you know the type. The ones that sit in the corner of your garage, a long-dried dribble of color down the side. You can’t use it — the living room was painted another color five years ago — and you just missed the yearly paint take-back day.

However, recycling old paint became easier this summer. In July, a new program run by the non-profit Paint Care allows residents to drop off up to five gallons of paint at participating locations year round.

“This is a permanent program. This will function year round,” said Laura Panciera, program manager for Paint Care in Connecticut.

The program got its start in 2011, when Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a law requiring paint manufacturers to manage the latex and oil-based paint that residents and contractors did not use when painting the interior and exterior of houses.

Connecticut is the third state in the union to pass this kind of law. In 2009, in response to Oregon’s paint recycling law, the American Coatings Association created Paint Care, a 501(c)3 that manages unused paint and is funded by a fee that is now included in the purchase of paint in the state.

“As any homeowner in Connecticut knows, getting rid of unwanted paint is a difficult challenge,” said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, back in 2011 when the law was passed. “With our new program, we will provide a convenient option for residents to safely recycle or dispose of unwanted paint by taking it to a participating retailer or household hazardous waste program. Thanks to the cooperation of the paint industry, we will be able to increase our recycling, save money for municipalities and provide a valuable service to our citizens – all at no cost to state taxpayers.”

Here’s how it works: in the past, residents had to take paint to a special Hazardous Household Waste facility, or wait until their towns had a hazardous waste “round up” day, to dispose of their old paint.

Today, paint cans have a fee attached to the sales price. Think of it as a recycling deposit on a can of soda, except this one is not refundable.

If the consumers have leftover paint, they can bring up to five gallons of paint at a time to participating locations.

The paint can be 20 years or older, and locations will accept primers, stains, metal coatings, Shellacs and varnishes.

However, empty, leaking or unlabeled containers are not accepted, along with spray paints, art and craft paints, and paint thinners.

Panciera said a transporter travels around the state, collects the bins and brings them to a paint processing facility in Illinois where the paint is sorted into vats of like colors and re-blended.

In the two and a half months the program has been operating, Panciera has relied on word-of-mouth advertising spread the news of the new recycling program.

“This is Connecticut,” she said. “We live in the land of seasonal, one-day events.”

When Paint Care advertised in California, “400 sites got slammed” when people, thinking the organization was hosting a one-day event, arrived with truckloads of old paint.

For more information about paint recycling, visit

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