October 29, 2007

Alberta to launch paint stewardship program as first action under new long-term waste strategy

A new stewardship program to recycle used or leftover paint will start up next April as the first initiative under Alberta's new long-term waste strategy.

The strategy, unveiled October 18 under the title Too Good to Waste, will also include a program to divert construction and demolition waste from landfills, targeted disposal bans and a paper and packaging diversion program, all aimed at substantially reducing the amount of waste sent to municipal landfills. Alberta is currently reviewing its beverage container recycling regulation as well.

"We have to rethink our idea of waste - rather than being something to put in a landfill, it is often something that can be transformed into a valuable resource," said provincial Environment Minister Rob Renner. "The paint stewardship program joins our other successful stewardship programs, like electronics, used oil and tires. Paint is simply too good to waste," he added.

It is estimated that five to 10% of the 30 million litres of paint are sold in Alberta each year ends up as leftover or waste paint. Improper disposal of this material can pose environmental and health risks. In addition, leftover paint contains valuable resources and presents significant potential for re-use, recycling and recovery.

Starting April 1, 2008, environmental fees ranging from 10 cents to $1 will be levied on paint containers up to 23 litres in capacity. The fees are similar to those under parallel BC and Saskatchewan programs, with the fee schedule set up as follows: 100 ml to 250 ml and any size aerosol paint containers, ten cents; 251 ml to 1 litre, 25 cents; one to five litres, 50 cents; and 5.01 to 23 litres, $1.00. As the program develops, the fees may be adjusted to ensure they accurately reflect operating costs in Alberta.

Types of paint materials to be collected under the program will include: latex architectural coatings; oil and solvent-based architectural coatings; all aerosol paints; and empty paint containers.

The fee monies will be directed into a separate fund and used pay for the program's administration and program-related activities such as recycling of paint and empty containers, education and awareness, research and market development, and measurement/reporting of program results. None of the fee monies will be remitted to the provincial government.

Many municipalities currently collect leftover paint from householders through permanent collection depots and eco-stations or through roundup events and this will continue under the paint stewardship program.

Businesses with leftover paint may, in some cases, be able to drop it off at municipal collection sites. In other cases, depending on location and other factors, businesses may send their paint directly to paint processors for recycling or other management options.

Alberta's new waste strategy is based on resource conservation and waste minimization according to the 3Rs hierarchy of waste management (reduction, re-use and recycling, with disposal as an option only when others are not feasible). Its overall goal is to reduce the annual per-capita quantity of waste disposed at landfills by nearly 40%, from the current level of more than 800 kilograms (kg) per capita to 500 kg per capita by 2010.

Because construction and demolition (C&D) waste makes up at least 22% of the municipal solid waste (MSW) going to Alberta landfills, a reduction of 60 kg per capita will have to be achieved in order to meet the goal of the strategy.

Based on a review of best practices used internationally, a multi-stakeholder committee has developed a proposal for a C&D waste stewardship program that calls for government leadership, a deposit/refund system for new construction, disposal bans, and the establishment of an environment fund from unredeemed deposits.

Development of a paper and packaging stewardship program is still in the early stages as Alberta Environment examines paper and packaging programs in other jurisdictions to create a program best suited to the province.

More information, including the Too Good to Waste strategy document, is available on the Alberta Environment Web site, www.environment.alberta.ca.

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