Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Recycled Paint? Yes please!

Anyone who's tried to take a pot of paint to a recycling centre will most likely have been met with the disappointing news that unfortunately it can't be recycled due to the nature of the chemicals. Often the advice is to use it up, donate it to a community repaint scheme, or dry the contents thoroughly with sand before bunging it in the rubbish bin.

But there is another solution, one that I discovered quite recently, which is to actually recycle waste paint into new paint.  This is something that I thought would be impossible, until I stumbled upon the West Sussex based company Newlife Paints.

Newlife Paints does exactly what it says in its company name.  It breathes new life into old paint by reprocessing it into a new product, which contains a minimum of 50% recycled paint.

Created in 2008, the business has an agreement to recover water-based emulsion paints from nearby Household Waste Recycling Centres. The tins are separated into key colour groups, exterior or interior use and matt versus silk finish, after which the paint is blended, tested and treated, before being filtered and packaged ready for sale.  As a result of this process, each year, the company has been able to divert an estimated 100 tonnes of paint from landfill or incineration.

A few months ago, following my cheeky request to try it out, Newlife Paints were kind enough to send me a tester pot.  Unfortunately since then, things have been so busy,  it has spent most of its time just sat on the shelf.

But seeing as it's Recycle Week, I thought there was no better time to give it a go and yesterday I finally managed to grab myself a roller, open the pot and slap it - yes, that is my decorating style - onto a wall that has been in much need of redecoration for as long as I've been staring at the unopened pot of paint.

So what's my verdict?

I'm no professional, but on application, the pale magnolia emulsion certainly seemed to live up to any quality brand that I have used before and provided good coverage and a finish that offers more credibility to my decorating 'skills' than I possibly deserve. Even after the first coat.

I was particularly pleased with this, because the wall upon which the paint was tested (pictured above), has seen a lot of knocks and handprints from the younger members of our household.

The paint also dried fairly quickly and left no real distinct smell around the house.

That's the verdict on the product.  Sadly my husband's verdict on my decorating skills is not so positive. Apparently preparation is the key to perfection and I really should have taken the trouble to mask off the areas which I didn't want to paint. Admittedly, I was over-keen to get started and as a result I'm not sure I'll be trusted to be left unsupervised with a roller in future, whether I'm doing my bit for recycling or not!

But now that there's a choice of  buying 'new' or 'recycled' paint, for me I'll be choosing the latter, especially as Newlife Paints state that every 5 litres of paint recycled results in an estimated saving of 13.58 kg in CO2. 

Stockists are mainly limited to West Sussex based companies at the moment, but the company has an online store for nationwide orders and is also preparing to launch its product range into 120 B&Q stores. The emulsion range is good, offering a choice of 32 colours and Newlife Paints provides a colour matching service too.

With innovative processes like this now being available in the UK, I would hope that paint recycling along with community reuse schemes will continue to divert increasing amounts of paint that is wasted through landfill and incineration.

It would be great to see more recycling centres collecting pots for recycling or reuse and I certainly hope that Newlife Paints can expand its recovery and reprocessing service into new areas.

Local paint collection is one thing that I feel we currently miss out on in Suffolk, but I now feel confident that it's only a matter of time.


More information about Newlife Paints can be found at For details of Community Repaint schemes, visit


Unknown said...

Would love for this scheme to come to Suffolk - have far too much old paint in my barn!

Newlife Paints said...

@Tattie Weasle:
Amy here from Newlife Paints :-D we are in discussions for further plants around the UK, of course to help us grow we need more sales, so tell your friends about us, help us spread the word!

Dahlia ChanTang said...

I LOVE recycled paint! I don't know about Newlife, but there is a Quebec company called Boomerang that had been doing for a while. When I moved back to Canada in 2007, I used their paints to breathe new life into my flat, and it was great!

Not only does recycled paint take toxic products out of the waste stream, their quality is on par with other brands, and they are much less expensive. And in the case of Boomerang, it also creates jobs and training for people who have been off the job market: by becoming a job training facility, Boomerang was able to get government funding to expand their facilities.

In Canada, big box hardware stores have jumped onto the bandwagon by not only distributing the recycled paints across the country, but also by acting as depot centres for any unused paints.

Though I am not exactly sure about the rest of the country, cities in the province of Quebec also do a twice yearly collection of household toxic wastes, and ferry all the left-over paints to the company.

Recycled paints are definitely a product we need to see more of, and its use needs to be greatly encouraged.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Tattie Weasle, so brilliant to see you the other day at in London. As I mentioned,and this might be useful info for Amym I've now forwarded details to Suffolk CC about NewLife Paints. If anything comes of it, I will be jumping up for joy in celebrations, as will probably half the county. :)

Hi Dahlia, great to hear from you and thanks so much for the info re Quebec. That sounds brilliant, organisation is sometimes all it takes to match a resource with organisations that can benefit. And what a great name... Boomerang! :)

Anonymous said...

Great stuff!
It seems you only recycle water-based paint, though, and my particular store is mostly the spirit-based sort. Is anyone tackling that issue?

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Anon - yes, I believe Newlife Paints are looking into alternative paints - if it's of interest it might be worth you getting in touch.

Newlife Paints said...

Hi Anon, We are investigating solvent based recycling as well, but we are concentrating on water-based. Solvent is being legislated out and within a few years it probably won't be available to buy, all wood paint will be waterbased. I think they are trying to make the waterbased wood paint a better quality before they stop it being sold.
Ps, I have also contacted Suffolk as they are meant to be "the greenest council in the UK", but so far not a peep back from much for being green!

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