(Augusta, ME) – Maine is set to become the seventh state in the country with a law creating an industry-run collection and recycling program for leftover household paint. The law will provide Maine residents with a safe, convenient, and environmentally responsible way to dispose of their leftover latex and oil paint, while at the same time lessening the financial burden of waste management that local governments often shoulder.
“This new law will help protect the environment by making it easy for Maine people to recycle the cans of partially used household paint that pile up in our basements and garages,” says NRCM Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim. “The program also will save money for towns and taxpayers by avoiding the cost of processing unused paint through household hazardous waste cleanup events, which is a costly way to handle used paint.”
The new program will be guided by LD 1308, which was adopted by the Maine Legislature with strong bipartisan support in both chambers (97-45 in the House; 28-7 in the Senate). Gov. Paul LePage had until Saturday, June 29 to sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or allow it to become law without his signature. He chose the option of allowing the bill to become law without his signature. Both the House and Senate passed LD 1308 with more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, but that did not guarantee that a veto would have been overridden.
“This new law will build on Maine’s other successful product stewardship programs, which are helping keep toxic materials out of landfills and incinerators,” Didisheim added. “We are pleased to have worked closely with representatives of the paint industry and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to pass a bill to provide a convenient way to recycle used paint. We also appreciate the governor’s decision to allow the bill to become law.”
Industry data on Maine paint sales suggest that the program could result in the collection and environmentally-responsible reuse and recycling of more than 300,000 gallons of paint annually. The program will be run by PaintCare, a national nonprofit entity created by the paint industry, which manages paint take-back programs in Oregon and California. Other states that have enacted similar legislation are Connecticut, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Vermont.
“We look forward to building on our experience in Oregon and California to launch a program in Maine that not only works for the paint industry, but also meets the public’s need for convenience, efficiency, and cost effectiveness,” said Alison Keane, vice president for the American Coatings Association (ACA).
LD 1308 was based on the “product stewardship” model of assigning the responsibility of collection, recycling and disposal of used products to the manufacturers. The program adds a recycling fee to the price of the product to finance the program; ensures a level playing field among all manufacturers; and involves industry management of the program through voluntary public and private sector collection sites. This model was developed through years of collaboration among multiple stakeholders in a national effort facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI).
“Thanks to the leadership of the paint industry and the perseverance of other stakeholders, Maine has taken a big step forward by enacting a significant product stewardship law,” says Scott Cassel, PSI’s chief executive officer. “Maine will benefit from millions of dollars of savings each year for its local governments, increased environmental benefits, and additional recycling jobs.”
Introduced by Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin), LD 1308 received support during public hearings before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee from the American Coatings Association; paint companies such as Sherwin-Williams, Behr, Valspar, and Henry; the Maine Resource Recovery Association, which represents 235 towns; retail stores; and organizations that promote product stewardship programs, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine and PSI. The bill was reported out of the committee with a 9-4 vote of support. The Department of Environmental Protection testified against the bill as introduced, but the committee incorporated changes recommended by the DEP during work sessions.
Small local retailers, in particular, have supported the program because it provides increased customer traffic and allows them to provide a valuable service to their customers, who will be able to safely and responsibly dispose of unwanted paint and paint containers.
This program has been a proven success elsewhere. In its first year of operation in Oregon, for example, the program collected 470,000 gallons of paint, 47 tons of plastic paint containers, and 65 tons of metal paint cans. It also saved the Portland Oregon Metro regional government more than $1 million in avoided costs.
The law goes into effect 90 days after adjournment of the Legislature, which is expected to be July 9. Program implementation will begin in mid-2015.