Corporate Responsibility: Quick guide to Community Re>Paint.

Graham Willgoss

Thousands of litres of redundant paint are redistributed for re-use by community groups, charities and voluntary organisations every year.

B&Q and Dulux are among several paint manufacturers and DIY retailers supporting an environmentally and socially beneficial solution to the problem of unused paint.

More than 377 million litres of paint are sold in the UK each year, of which an estimated 75 million litres is stored in homes and garages or just thrown away, to be disposed of in landfill sites. The Community Re>Paint initiative provides a solution, passing paint on to those in social need free of charge or for a small donation. The paint is used to decorate children's playgrounds, skateboard parks, community murals and for one-off projects such as the houses damaged by recent flooding in Carlisle.

A Save Waste and Prosper (SWAP) survey showed paint with a market value of £515,000 was redistributed last year, representing an increase of 17 per cent on 2003. Jenny Hartland, Community Re>Paint scheme co-ordinator at SWAP, said: "The results are testament to the excellent work carried out by the network and illustrate the good use that leftover paint can be put to by diverting it from landfill. It is clear that Community Re>Paint is providing a real solution to the problem of leftover household paint, which can contaminate other recyclable materials and add to the formation of harmful or poisonous material at landfill sites."

Just over half the paint is donated by members of the public at household waste recycling centres and designated drop-off points at DIY outlets.

The remainder is donated by retailers and manufacturers. Britain's largest paint manufacturer - Kalon Paints - and retailers Wickes, Brewers, Focus, Homebase, Asda, Next and Laura Ashley also provide paint, financial support or advice. Dulux provides a trained chemist to offer expert advice on hazardous materials and health and safety.

The initiative emerged after a research project was carried out by SWAP in the form of a 'waste wagon', in which Leeds residents were invited to get rid of hazardous waste in their sheds and garages. It found thousands of litres of unused paint was being stored, and the Re>Paint scheme was introduced.

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