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From habitat magazine - issue 39, doing it

The life cycle of your paint and pails.

Trevor Tutt

Way back in 1999, Resene started working on paint recycling. Little did the team know that after launching in 2004, within a few years, millions of packs of paint would be recycled through the Resene PaintWise service and recycled paint donations would be used all over the country to cover graffiti and for local community beautification projects.

What was once considered rubbish, has now become a useful resource for so many. Paint recycling isn’t without its challenges though. Resene works with 3R on the Resene PaintWise recycling programme and Trevor Tutt talks us through what happens to your paint once you drop it off to the Resene PaintWise service.

Step 1: Return paint

Deliver your paint cans or pails to your local PaintWise collection centre at your local Resene ColorShop. These can be empty or with residual paint inside. The cans are then distributed out to one of three recycling centres in Auckland, Christchurch and Hastings where the recycling journey begins.

The Resene PaintWise Service

Drop your used paint tins and pails to a designated Resene PaintWise collection centre at selected Resene ColorShops.

Step 2: Separating the paint from the tin packaging

For the steel paint cans, a machine called a decanter is used. This literally crushes the can, so the can drops down one chute and the paint flows down the other chute. The paint is then pooled together in 1,000 litre containers and colour matched into one of Resene’s ‘community colours’ ready for donation to community groups and councils. Steel is one of the most highly recycled materials in New Zealand, and it’s a very straightforward process. Resene’s plastic paint pails, however, go through a more comprehensive process.

Step 3: Separating the paint from the plastic pail

The goal is to turn a used pail back into another new pail “We do that by literally scraping the paint out of the pail, dipping in with what's called a ‘spigot’ and then wrangling it with a spatula to finish the process. It’s not dissimilar to cleaning out a cake tin”, Trevor says laughing!

Recycled paint has also been used to help make footpaths

Recycled paint has also been used to help make footpaths and concrete, like this one in Hobsonville.

A hydraulic press processes all of Resene's waterborne cans

Billy Jean Randell on the processing line for the hydraulic press that processes all of Resene's waterborne cans.

did you know?  In Australia, paint can be recycled through the Paintback service. See for more details.

Step 4: Separating the polymers for recycling

The process now takes a more technical turn. The pails are stripped to separate the polymer streams out with a washing process. The remaining strips are then stacked and dried ready for the next stage of recycling. The pails are shredded and granulated before being moulded into a resin. The resin is then used to make ‘new’ Resene paint pails using 100% recycled plastic.

The whole process is effectively a full circle, as you leave your paint pail, and then get a fully recycled one at the other end. “It’s probably the best example of a circular recycling scheme”, says Trevor. This alongside the paint itself being recycled and donated to community projects by Resene is a very rewarding process.

So when you’re thinking about painting up a storm, you can rest assured Resene will help you take care of your unwanted paint and paint packaging once you’ve finished the decorating.

Find out more about Resene PaintWise, your local recycling centre and how to apply for community paint.

The Resene PaintWise paint recycling programme is the only paint recycling programme ever accredited by the Ministry for the Environment.

Recycled paint

100% recycled paint ready to be donated for community paint work. Resene donates a range of colours for use in community projects like painting over graffiti.

Recycled paint pails

Paint pails are delivered through the Resene PaintWise scheme ready to begin the extensive recycling process.

Volunteers freshen up the paintwork in Māngere

A team of volunteers freshen up the paintwork in Māngere with Resene’s community paint created from the Resene PaintWise recycling programme.

What happens with the cans, pails and paints?

Cans are sent to steel recycling, pails are remade into more pails, solventborne paints are sent to solvent recovery so the solvents can be extracted and used in other industries and waterborne paints are donated to community groups and used in Paintcrete concrete manufacture.

Top tips for making the most of your paint and paint packaging:

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