Why does Alberta need a paint recycling program?

It is estimated that about 30 million litres of paint is sold in Alberta each year. On average, 5 to 10 percent of this ends up as waste, which can pose environmental and health risks if disposed of improperly. Leftover paints are liquid waste and are difficult for consumers to dispose of properly. Oil-based paints contain combustible materials and, in some cases, hazardous components. Older paint may contain lead, mercury, and other heavy metals.

In addition, Albertans purchase more than 4 million spray paint cans each year, disposing of over 400,000 of them in the paint program. These products can be recycled, reducing their impact on the environment.

Why should I recycle my leftover paint?

Old paint is difficult to dispose of and represents a high percentage of the hazardous products destined for thermal destruction. Disposal of paint also adds a significant cost to municipalities as they pay the cost of shipping these products.

Waste paint contains many components that have great potential for reuse, recycling and recovery. The Paint Recycling Alberta program enables these products to be safely handled and recycled in an environmentally safe manner, reducing their impact on the environment and the municipalities.

How does the Program work?

The leftover paint, empty paint cans, and spray paint cans are picked up from over 300 municipal collection sites by paint recyclers registered with Alberta Recycling.  They also pick up directly from businesses. 

Each can of leftover latex paint is sent in its original container to a recycler for processing into new latex paint.  This paint can be purchased at various distributors throughout the province. Oil-based paint is poured (or bulked) into 45 gallon drums and shipped to companies that use it for energy recovery. The residual paint & propellant in spray paint cans is captured and sent for fuel blending.  The metal cans are sent to a metal recycler where they are made into rebar for example, or other metal products.  Even the plastic tips and caps are recycled.

Empty metal paint cans are also sent to metal recyclers.  The plastic paint cans pose more of a challenge for recycling; the program is currently researching new recycling applications for this product that will provide a more consistent market.

How is the Program funded?

The program is funded through environmental fees charged on the sale of new paint in Alberta. The fees are put into a dedicated fund that can only be used to manage the paint recycling program. No part of the environmental fee is remitted to government. The paint recycling program has its own fund, separate from the other Alberta Recycling program funds.

The fees are based on container sizes:

Unpressurized paint containers:
100 ml to 250 ml $0.10
251 ml to 1 L $0.25
1.01 L to 5 L $0.75
5.01 L to 23 L $2.00
Aerosol paint containers all sizes $0.10




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