Paint and Coatings
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
- Sector Profile
- Performance Data and Trends for this Sector
- Assessing the Impacts of Paint Disposal
EPA Study Estimates the Quantity of Post-consumer Paint that is Disposed of by Americans Each Year
EPA released Quantifying the Disposal of Post-consumer Architectural Paint (PDF) (41 pp, 1.2MB, About PDF) on April 18, 2007, which estimates that about 10 percent of the house paint purchased in the United States each year—about 65 to 69 million gallons—is ultimately discarded. This study was released at a national meeting of the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative, which brought together a multi-stakeholder dialogue that paint manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, EPA officials, and representatives from more than two dozen state and local agencies, to find better ways to manage leftover house paint. The study fills a critical information gap by defining the scope of the leftover paint problem, as well as the size of the potential resource pool that is available for the production of recycled content paint.
The U.S. paint and coatings industry is composed of approximately 1,400 establishments engaged in mixing pigments, solvents, and binders into a wide variety of products that preserve, protect and beautify the objects to which they are applied. Paint and coating products are commonly grouped into four categories:
- Architectural coatings include interior and exterior paints, primers, sealers, varnishes and stains that are applied on-site to new and existing residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings.
- Industrial coatings are those that are factory-applied to manufactured goods as part of the production process. They are used to decorate and protect a wide variety of products, including motor vehicles, appliances, beverage cans, furniture, machinery and electrical equipment.
- Special-purpose coatings include marine paints, high-performance maintenance coatings, automotive refinish paints, transportation markings and aerosol paints. Such coatings are generally used where durability is a key objective.
- Allied paint products include putties, paint and varnish removers, paint thinners, pigment dispersions, paintbrush cleaners, and frit (ground glass or glaze).
In 2005 the U.S. paint and coatings industry sold 1.57 billion gallons of paint and coatings product, valued at $20 billion. The industry employs approximately 43,000 people.
You can find data and trends for this sector in the Paint and Coatings chapter of the most recent Sector Performance Report.
The Quantifying the Disposal of Post-consumer Architectural Paint (PDF) (41 pp, 1.2MB, About PDF) study featured above examines available data from the states of California, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Washington, each of which has available data on the quantity of paint disposed in municipal solid waste landfills and incinerators, as well as the quantity brought to household hazardous waste (HHW) collection centers. It is believed that these two major pathways account for the vast majority of post-consumer paint disposed each year. The case studies provide state-specific estimates of the annual quantity of paint that is disposed. These data are then scaled to provide national estimates.
Leftover architectural paint is a concern to communities across the country because of its high volume in the waste stream, resulting waste management costs, and potential for reduction, recovery, reuse and recycling. Leftover paint can also contain volatile organic compounds, fungicides and, in the case of very old paint, significant quantities of hazardous metals such as mercury and lead. Of all HHW, paint is the single most voluminous and expensive material that many local governments collect and manage.
To address the challenges of reducing and managing leftover architectural paint, state and local agencies have joined together with paint manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, and others under the auspices of the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative (PPSI). These stakeholders are now exploring a broad range of issues and approaches to leftover paint management with the goal of working toward a nationally coordinated leftover paint management system.
Product Stewardship Institute
137 Newbury Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: (617) 236-4855
Fax: (617) 859-9889
Paint Product Stewardship Initiative: Since December 2003, the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) has facilitated a national dialogue aimed at reducing the generation of leftover paint while increasing reuse and recycling opportunities. With the avid support of more than 200 dialogue participants, these discussions resulted in an historic agreement mediated by PSI in October 2007 among paint manufacturers, government agencies, paint recyclers, painting contractors, and other participants. The agreement calls for the establishment of an industry-funded Paint Stewardship Organization that will collect and manage leftover paint using a pass-through cost to consumers.