Senator Saviello, Representative Hamper and members of the Committee. My name is Matt Prindiville and I’m the Clean Production Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. We support the intent behind LD 1433, and – with modifications that address the paint industry’s concerns – we hope to support a broadly-endorsed bill that will bring paint stewardship to Maine in the near future.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 10 percent of all paint purchased in the United States becomes leftover – around 64 million gallons annually (1). Leftover paint is the largest cost for local household hazardous waste management programs, costing up to $8 per liquid gallon for recycling, equal to over half a billion dollars annually across the country (2). At the AVCOG Facility in Lewiston, their costs are $27.50 per 5 gallon bucket of paint, or $5.50 cents per gallon (3). Ask any municipal solid waste official about which product gives them the biggest headache at the transfer station and they are likely to say “paint.” Residents often dispose of left-over paint with their trash, leading to hazardous and/or messy spills on site. Oil-based paint that is disposed of improperly can combust creating greater hazards. And then there’s the exorbitant cost of disposing of paint properly.
Maine people continue to have few, if any, options for disposing of paint and other household hazardous waste in their homes, basements and garages. Because of this, many of us have stockpiles that are increasingly growing because we can’t seem to get to that one HHW day that our town has each year. These products, some of which are stored in corroding containers, can pose a health risk to our families, neighbors, solid waste workers and the environment if poorly handled or improperly disposed of.
And they’re not just being stockpiled. Because many towns charge residents and businesses for the disposal of HHW, some people decide to pour these products down the drain, dump them onto the ground, or toss them – containers and all – onto other people’s property.
The good news is that latex paint is easily recycled into new paint and oil-based paint can be blended and sold as an inexpensive fuel. Throughout Canada, the paint manufacturers have set up industry-run and funded organizations to collect, recycle and sell left-over paint from consumers. If you live in one of these jurisdictions and have left-over paint sitting around the house, you can go to a participating retailer or municipal site, and the manufacturer-run organization will take care of it from there at no cost to you, your town or your fellow taxpayers.
These programs are set up, funded and run by the companies and trade associations that sell these products into the provinces. They contract with stewardship organizations, which act as service providers to run the operations and logistics. Paint stewardship programs have been around for a long time in much of Canada, and while other products have only recently been added in several provinces, they are wildly exceeding initial targets for collection.
In the US, nine states (CT, VT, NC, FL, MN, IA, WA, OR, and CA) invested in a national memorandum of understanding facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute – and supported by the paint manufacturers – that resulted in a model paint stewardship bill. Paint manufacturers – represented by the American Coatings Association – consider these states as having priority over other states with regard to introducing industry-sponsored legislation. To date, two states (Oregon and California) have passed laws, and the remaining 7 are expected to introduce industry-sponsored bills this year or in 2012.
It is especially encouraging is that the paint industry has stepped forward to become stewards. They should be rewarded for their leadership, not penalized. It’s our understanding that the manufacturers would like to set up their stewardship programs in the MOU states first before bringing their program to Maine. We support this, although we would like to know where we are on the list and have some commitment from the industry as to when they will bring their program to Maine. To that end, we would like to work with the Committee and industry on language that accomplishes this.
NRCM, the Chamber, DEP, Maine Municipal Association and others have had an ongoing and productive dialogue with the American Coatings Association, and I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to move forward with paint product stewardship in Maine.
Thank you for your time. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
1 Paint Stewardship. Product Stewardship Institute. http://www.productstewardship.us/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=1162 Ibid.
3 (See attached).