SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Getting rid of old paint and other coatings, like stains, shellacs, and primers, is getting easier.

More than 400 paint stores across California now accept paints and other items that residents used to have to haul off to their local hazardous waste drop-off locations. The program, called Paint Care, is funded with fees tacked onto every paint purchase.

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Most of what’s collected gets recycled, said Paint Care California Program Manager Caitlyn Sanders. “Very, very little ends up being disposed of,” said Sanders. “The only things that might go into the landfill are a little bit of dried latex paint.”

Sanders said old paint is reblended, retinted and sold as recycled content paint. Oil-based products can be made into fuel.

Even paint that’s too old or chunky can be made into something else. “There’s a company in Southern California that makes artificial landscaping rocks,” said Sanders. “Other companies are blending it with cement or asphalt to make flexible roadbases.”

Another aim of the program, which kicked off in October 2012, is to keep paint and other home improvement products from being dumped in landfills of poured down drains. Both practices are illegal.

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It’s estimated 10% of all paint purchased in the U.S. every year goes unused. “It’s hard to buy the exact amount of paint,” Sanders said. The Paint Care program also helps individuals better calculate the right amount of paint to purchase, to minimize leftovers.

Program Products (Acceptable)

  • Interior and exterior architectural paints: latex, acrylic, water-based, alkyd, oil-based, enamel (including textured coatings)
  • Deck coatings, floor paints (including elastomeric)
  • Primers, sealers, undercoaters
  • Stains
  • Shellacs, lacquers, varnishes, urethanes (single component)
  • Waterproofing concrete/masonry/wood sealers and repellents (not tar or bitumen-based)
  • Metal coatings, rust preventatives
  • Field and lawn paints

Non-Program Products (Not Acceptable)

  • Paint thinners, mineral spirits, solvents
  • Aerosol paints (spray cans)
  • Auto and marine paints
  • Art and craft paints
  • Caulking compounds, epoxies, glues, adhesives
  • Paint additives, colorants, tints, resins
  • Wood preservatives (containing pesticides)
  • Roof patch and repair
  • Tar and bitumen-based products
  • 2-component coatings
  • Deck cleaners
  • Traffic and road marking paints
  • Industrial Maintenance (IM) coatings
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) (shop application) paints and finishes

Note: Leaking, unlabeled and empty containers are not accepted at drop-off sites.

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