Our survey also revealed that 47% of households in the UK redecorated in the last year, with 31% of this group saying that COVID-19 measures provided an ‘excuse’ to redecorate. In total, 73% of adults living in the UK are now storing unfinished tins of paint.
When asked why they stockpiled unused paint, 30% said it seemed a waste to just throw it away, while 73% said they were holding on to excess paint in case it was needed for touch-ups or repainting.
Tom Bowtell, Chief Executive Officer of British Coatings Federation and Chair of our Surface Coatings Group, said: “Our own research echoes that of the RSC and estimates that 55 million litres of waste decorative paint is generated in the UK each year. Our PaintCare initiative sees this left-over paint as a valuable resource and plans to recover and reuse it. Consumers and professional painters will be able to take their old paint to their local waste recycling centre or DIY outlet where it would be taken to a paint recycling factory for sorting, mixing and testing to make new paint of the highest quality for re-selling. It’s a closed loop system – paint made from paint. We will also develop sustainable ways to use paint not suitable for remanufacture into new materials such as concrete.”
Earlier this year we took a landscape view of the sustainability of ingredients found in millions of household products through our report Polymers in liquid formulations (PLFs): Opportunities for a sustainable future. The paints industry is just one of eight sectors that PLFs are key ingredients for, and each year more than 36.25 million tonnes of PLFs are used in household and industrial products, from shampoos to washing detergents. The research reports that investment in innovation, waste management and the circular economy is urgently needed to make this newly-identified group of chemicals more sustainable.
We are calling for:
- Government and local authorities to provide more support to paint recycling and reuse initiatives, such as BCF’s PaintCare programme, making it easier for consumers to recycle paints no matter where they live
- Government to directly invest in research programmes for sustainable alternatives for PLFs
- Consumers to reduce wastage of paints by buying only what they need. Find out what you can do with leftover paint here
- Consumers to write to their MP asking for change - further details can be found here
In addition to the release of our report, we convened an industry task force to plan a way forward to make PLFs more sustainable. Unilever, BASF, Crown Paints, Croda, Afton Chemical and Scott Bader are among the first to join the task force, with many other organisations across eight key industries including agriculture and cosmetics sharing their expertise.