Around 25 million litres of decorative paint is sold each year in New Zealand.* Paints are not only decorative but also provide protective coatings for a wide range of surfaces. As protective coatings, paints can significantly prolong the useful life of structures and claddings. This helps reduce resources used for repair and replacement. However paint products also have an impact on the environment themselves, so choosing the right paints and using them properly is essential.
Choosing the Right Paint
The manufacturing processes, including those for raw materials used in paints, can involve significant use of energy and may produce hazardous waste. Reducing, reusing and/or recycling packaging will conserve valuable resources and reduce the volume of packaging entering the waste stream.
You can easily help solve these problems choosing the right paint. By choosing paint with an ECNZ (Environmental Choice New Zealand) label, you are ensuring the product has passed environmental and health ratings. Ensure the paint you choose is fit for purpose and durable to minimise the amount of repainting you will need to do later. You can find different paints that have ECNZ certification on the EnviroSpec website. To view them click here now.
Choosing the right paint is only the beginning. Irresponsible handling of paint products and disposal of unwanted paint has become a troublesome concern in New Zealand. Consumer behaviour is an important aspect that can affect the environmental impacts of paint products. And this is where you can actively make a difference:
If we all reuse, recycle and correctly dispose of unwanted paint, it will help to divert waste from landfills. Selecting the correct products and applying these correctly helps to ensure efficient use of resources. Following appropriate processes to clean equipment will reduce the impacts of discharges during paint application stages of the life cycle.
- Let paint dry on plastic trays - it makes is easier to peel off later.
- Wrap used brushes and rollers in a plastic shopping bag or seal with clear cling wrap while you take breaks and overnight - this will prevent air from drying the utensils so you can re-use them multiple times without having to wash them out.
- Unopened cans of paint have a shelf life of two to five years, according to various paint manufacturers, but they can last for much longer if stored well in cool and dry conditions. If it has become a lumpy mess that will not mix your paint has gone bad.
- Paint cans that have been opened have a shelf life of approximately six months if not properly stored. But with some special attention you're leftover paint can also last for years as long as it is properly stored.
- To maximise the shelf-life of your paint, always paint out of a paint pot, not the paint container. Every time a brush or roller goes into the paint it brings contaminants from the surface with it. By using a separate paint pot you don't affect the rest of the paint in the main container. Don't pour leftovers from the paint pot back into the main can, otherwise you are introducing contaminants and bacteria that will reduce the paint's shelf life.
- When you are storing the paint, start by covering the opening of the paint can with plastic wrap before closing the lid. This will help create an additional seal when the can is closed. Use a mallet to close the can for a better seal, and store paint in a cool, dry area away from extreme heat and cold. Mark each paint can with the date opened and always try and use the oldest paint up first. If it has become a lumpy mess that will not mix or it has a very strong mouldy type odour your paint has gone bad.
- Don't just throw your leftover or expired paint out with your household rubbish!Some responsible industries and companies provide end-of-life disposal options for their products. This is called product stewardship. Look for suppliers who take back used paints, they can recycle or reuse your paint by for example donating it to community groups. And otherwise they will have the means to dispose the paint in an environmentally approved way. Go to the Resene PaintWise website or to the relevant manufacturers' websites as appropriate.
So next time you're in for a paint job, make sure you choose the right paint with ECNZ eco-label and be a responsible painter.