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4. Paint Recovery Programmes in New Zealand

4.1. Rate or landfill levy funded Collections

Post-consumer paint is collected through household hazardous waste collections by local and regional councils in parts (but not all) of New Zealand. Services are supplied in Auckland, Bay of Plenty (some communities), Hastings, Napier, Wellington (including Hutt City) and Christchurch. This includes collection by hazardous waste vehicle, "Hazmobile", and/or collection at transfer station facilities.

In some cases, residual paint collected at council transfer stations is made available to members of the public for reuse. Otherwise collected paint is taken by service providers for processing.

4.1.1. Hazmobile process

These are publicised "event days" where members of the public are invited to bring Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) to a site (usually a car park) and trained staff take from them the hazardous goods (including paint, oil, batteries, chemicals, etc).

Typically, paint is more than 50% of total volume received. The HHW process did not anticipate taking significant paint volumes and this has put strain on resources and costs [Source: Auckland Regional Council] .

The paint is sorted on the day by a contractor into two streams

  • Solvent-borne and water-borne deemed unsuitable for recycling - approx 60%
  • Water-borne deemed suitable for recycling - approx 40%

The solvent and unsuitable fraction is recovered or stabilised and disposed (at cost to councils) to landfill.

The water-borne deemed suitable for recycling is taken away for decanting and processing into re-created paint for sale either back to councils for graffiti abatement or through retail to the public. In the Wellington and Auckland regions, this link with the Hazmobile is made by Enviropaints. The Enviropaints process is described further in section 4.4, below.

The Hazmobile contractor is paid per kilogramme for product taken away for recycling and a site fee for attendance at the collection day.

Any product subsequently deemed unsuitable for recycling after opening is returned to the area where it came from for stabilisation (not always) and disposal (at cost to councils) to landfill.

Packaging is recycled where possible.

4.1.2. Transfer station collections (Christchurch example)

Only a few councils have any systematic (open every day) process for public drop off of unused/unwanted paint. Christchurch is an example.

The three transfer stations in Christchurch collect approximately 84,000 kg of unused/unwanted paint and packaging per annum plus an unmeasured quantity of paint deemed suitable for re-sale.

The paint deemed suitable for re-sale is sent to the Council's Supershed (second-hand goods) business for re-sale.

The solvent-borne paint fraction is sent for solvent recovery at cost to Council.

The water-borne fraction is consolidated for disposal at cost to Council.

No special charges are made at the transfer stations for the cost of disposal of the paint and packaging materials they receive. The cost of this process was not available for public disclosure.

4.2. Manufacturing waste

Paint manufacturers in New Zealand produce waste as a by-product of their manufacturing processes. They also have surplus product that occasionally needs to be disposed of. Where possible, "bad" batches are "cleaned" and returned into the manufacturing process.

These wastes are usually managed by recycling service providers such as Transpacific Technical Services or Medichem, both of whom specialise in recovering solvent waste.

Transpacific Technical Services operate facilities in Auckland and Wellington. Medichem operate a facility in Auckland. There are also two smaller-scale operators in Christchurch: Solvent Rescue and Solvent Refiners.

Solvents are extracted through distillation, resulting in reprocessed solvents and still bottoms. Still bottoms are stabilised and disposed of to landfill. The reprocessed solvents are sold as "gunwash" or "blanketwash".

Gunwash is a product used by panel-beaters to clean their spray guns. There is a good market for gunwash in New Zealand, and the product is often in short supply. Blanketwash is used in the printing industry to clean printing equipment. There is less demand for this product and it is sometimes used as an alternative fuel in kilns for example.

4.3. Industry product stewardship schemes

There is only one example of a post-consumer product stewardship scheme for paint in New Zealand. The scheme has been developed by Resene and began to be rolled out across New Zealand in September 2005.

4.3.1. Structure of the Resene Paintwise programme

The Resene Foundation (TRF) has been established as a charitable trust and owns the Resene Paintwise programme. The trustees of the Foundation are a mix of Resene Paint Ltd (RPL) directors and staff and appropriate external trustees.

A programme manager manages the Paintwise programme under contract to the Foundation.


Figure 1. Paintwise Organisation Structure


The Paintwise programme is run on a not-for-profit basis.

The ongoing costs of running the Paintwise programme are met through a combination of fees paid on every litre of Resene paint sold, and fees paid by customers disposing of non-Resene paint. Any shortfall between operating costs and fee revenue is being met by Resene Paints Ltd. Any surplus arising from the programme is distributed by The Resene Foundation to charitable causes, such as hospices.

4.3.2. How Paintwise works

The ongoing costs of the Paintwise programme are met in four different ways.

i. Paintwise Recovery Fee on New Product

A recovery fee is charged on all retail sales of Resene-branded paint in participating regions. The fee is 15c per litre and is shown to customers on their sales receipt.

ii. Non-Resene Paint Accepted for a Fee

Customers who bring non-Resene branded paint tins and pails for recovery to the Resene stores pay a fee. The initial price setting is:

Cans/pails 10 litre and over - $2.50 (incl. GST) per can/pail

Cans/pails 4 litre and under - $1.00 (incl. GST) per can/pail

iii. Commercial Sources Accepted for a Fee

Trade painters can use the Paintwise programme by paying a call-out fee which covers the extra cost of the truck going to their premises plus a levy (same as non-Resene levy regardless of brand) on paint collected/ processed.

iv. Shortfall Met by Resene

Any shortfall between operating costs and fee revenue is met by Resene Paints Ltd.

The Paintwise programme started in 11 stores in the Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. These stores were chosen for maximum coverage and for their capacity to manage the returns process.

The programme is being rolled out to other parts of the country over the next 12 months. The next area (either South Island or Lower North Island) is scheduled to commence August 2006. The remaining area is scheduled for February 2007.

Comprehensive procedures have been put in place for in-store collections and transport operations. These include staff training, health and safety plans and spill contingency plans. The programme is in the process of achieving Enviromark certification.

The solvent-borne paint undergoes solvent recovery. The water-borne paint is being supplied to a range of parties for graffiti abatement. Apart from a small volume of sludges left after solvent recovery, no paint recovered has been stabilised and landfilled. The steel is being recycled. The plastic pails are currently going to landfill pending a suitable recycling process being found.

The programme is in its very early stages having only been going for six months at the time of this case study.

4.3.3. Flowchart of the Paintwise process


Customers return unwanted paint and packaging to a Resene shop. If the paint is Resene branded, this service is free (if not, a small fee is charged). The shop will segregate the paint according to quality and type. Good quality paint is donated to community groups. Other paint is collected in specialist vehicles and transferred to a facility in Auckland. Packaging is recycled where possible, solvent is recovered from solvent-borne paints and water-borne paints are used for graffiti abatement and other applications.

Paintwise performance to date

The Paintwise programme is seeking to maximise the recovery of materials from the paint collected. For some materials, such as steel cans, there is a good market. For other materials, such as plastic, there are currently poor markets in New Zealand. Resene Paints Ltd has made its desire to maximise recovery clear from the outset of the programme. Material flows, based on the collection trial include:

  • Good quality paint (13.5%) - donated to community groups
  • Plastic (6%) - landfilled (see below)
  • Steel (25%) - recycled
  • Water-borne paint (31.5%) - currently supplied for graffiti abatement as well as research underway on alternative uses
  • Solvent-borne paint (18%) - solvent recovery

Paintwise is investing resource and money into alternative uses for waste paint and plastic packaging. Scion (Crown Research Institute) has been commissioned to research opportunities for waste paint use. University research has also been started into the potential for waste paint use in concrete applications.

A research and development collaboration agreement with a major cement/concrete maker is currently being signed off and will shortly go into action.

Whilst all major plastics recyclers have indicated they are unable to currently use the paint-contaminated plastic, work is ongoing to find a beneficial use for the plastic.

As previously stated, the Paintwise programme started in September 05. In reality, the processing system was only available from mid October so any publicity about the programme was delayed until December 05 to allow the new collection and processing systems to be bedded in. Volumes were modest in the early stages. A bus shelter advertising promotion in December/January trebled volumes and these volumes have been growing since.

Non-Resene-branded paint and packaging represents approximately 50% of returns to store. The percentage breakdown of materials into community paint, solvent and water-borne fractions and packaging varies from month to month. At this early stage of the programme, the splits found in the trial seem to be reasonably accurate. A substantial increase in overall volumes is expected when the programme rolls out in the South Island in August 06.

4.4. Paint Remanufacturing

There is one company in New Zealand that remanufactures paint. Enviropaints Ltd is owned by Reid Paints Ltd. Reid Paints manufactures specialist paints including architectural coatings, rubber membrane paints and roof paints.

Enviropaints takes empties and unwanted paint from Reid Paints as feedstock for their remanufacturing operation.

In some parts of the North Island (notably Auckland), Hazmobile collections supply Enviropaints with unwanted water-borne paint deemed suitable for recycling. Councils pay Enviropaints to take this collected water-borne paint away. Water-borne paint is remanufactured into Environmental Choice-labelled paint. This is then sold to the public through The Warehouse and to councils for graffiti abatement.