Sonoma County may partner with paint recycling nonprofit

The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency is discussing a partnership with a new program aimed at reducing toxic waste from leftover paint cans.

The potential partnership with PaintCare, a nonprofit developed in Oregon in 2009, would ultimately reduce agency costs and make it more convenient for people to recycle paint.

Six locations in Sonoma County are now designated PaintCare sites, including five Kelly-Moore stores and one Dunn-Edwards store. The agency currently runs its own household hazardous waste program but absorbs the costs of processing and disposal.

"We're looking to go directly through PaintCare so that we won't be paying the disposal costs," said Lisa Steinman, a county waste management specialist. "We want to provide as many opportunities for people to recycle as possible."

About 50 percent of household toxic waste is paint, said PaintCare spokesman Paul Fresina.

PaintCare was created to administer regulations coming from Oregon's new paint stewardship program, which requires paint manufactures to provide a recycling system for leftover paint from household and commercial consumers.

California passed similar legislation in 2010, and PaintCare programs began statewide in October.

Response to the program has largely been positive, and the Kelly-Moore store on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa has even had to turn people away.

"We had to increase our pick-up from PaintCare to once a week," said Tiffany Levie, a department coordinator at the store. "We had a lot of people emptying their garages and bringing paint once they found out this was here."

Consumers are charged 35 cents for a half pint to a gallon of paint, 75 cents per gallon, and $1.60 for 1- to 5-gallon containers. Unlike the recycling fee on aluminum cans, it is not refundable.

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