Abby King, NRCM Toxics Policy Advocate
Good afternoon Senator Boyle, Representative Welsh, and distinguished members of the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. My name is Abby King, I am the Toxics Policy Advocate with the Natural Resources Council of Maine and I am here to testify in support of LD 1308.
This bill provides a proven solution to the problem of what people should do with leftover paint. The paint that we use on the walls and exterior of our homes, referred to as architectural paint, is a product that almost everyone purchases and uses, and then we create piles of partially used paint cans in our basements, closets, and garages. Oil-based paint is flammable, and much older paints can contain lead. Currently there’s no good option in Maine for the safe and convenient disposal and recycling of cans of leftover paint. This bill would change that.
The options right now in Maine are haphazard and insufficient to address the problem. Some municipalities collect oil-based paint at periodic household hazardous waste (HHW) collection events. Only two permanent collection areas exist in the state. No towns in Maine currently collect latex paint for recycling, so residents are instructed to dry out their leftover paint at home with kitty litter and then throw the paint, metal container and all, into the trash.
This bill provides a product stewardship solution supported by the paint industry, the environmental community, local governments, homeowners, small businesses, and many others. It presents a simple solution to collecting and managing unwanted paint that increases convenience for Maine residents and businesses and protects the environment and human health. It presents an opportunity for the state to build on the many proven successful product stewardship programs we have pioneered here.
LD 1308 is modeled after a pilot program created in Oregon that has been so successful that it is now being recommended for permanent implementation. The Oregon program has improved statewide access to permanent collection sites; provided significant cost savings for local governments; and diverted significant quantities of latex and oil-based paint from the traditional waste stream so that it can be reused, recycled, recovered, and safely disposed of. Information from the Oregon program has been valuable to the paint industry and many stakeholder groups for the purpose of refining and improving the model for other statesâincluding here in Maine.
During the first year of Oregon’s program, more than 450,000 gallons of paint were collected. The number of collection sites doubled, from 45 to more than 90, with strong involvement by retail stores. By the end of the first year, a collection site was within 15 miles of approximately 70% of Oregon residents, compared to 51% before the program began. The Portland Oregon regional governments saved more than $1 million of its $5.4 million total household hazardous waste budget. The majority of the latex paint collected (about 60%) was reused or recycled, 8% was reprocessed for beneficial use, and 4% was converted to a fuel product. The majority (97%) of oil-based paint collected was blended for fuel recovery.
Lessons learned from Oregon, and also from California where the program is in its first year, have been incorporated into LD 1308.
LD 1308 will benefit taxpayers by shifting municipal waste management costs to consumers of the product. The bill will provide convenient access for paint reuse and recycling across the state. Retail stores that participate as collection sites will benefit through increased foot traffic and sales. And the bill helps protect the environment and human health by creating a waste management solution for the paint cans piled up in basements, closets, and garages across Maine.
For these reasons, NRCM strongly supports LD 1308. Thank you for the opportunity to testify and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.