By Trevor Tutt – 3R Group GM Innovation

New Zealand’s paint industry is the latest to move forward with creating an industry-led product stewardship scheme.

An all-of-industry working group has recently been formed to create a pathway for unwanted and unused paint and its packaging to be recovered.  The co-designed, regulated stewardship scheme will collect the materials which will be processed and either recycled, repurposed or safely disposed of.

This is not only an example of an industry taking responsibility for its products but also showing leadership by designing a solution of its own. After all, industry has the best understanding of its products and supply chain – something which is vital to create a successful stewardship scheme.

For us at 3R Group, as long-time programme managers of paint and packaging stewardship, this is obviously exciting news.

We’ve managed the Resene PaintWise™ stewardship scheme for some 14 years and Dulux’s take back programme for more than a decade. Wattyl are the latest brand to create a paint and packaging take back directly with 3R.  Now, the whole industry is ready to work together under one scheme.

The decision by the industry to unite has been buoyed by the steady growth in voluntary paint and packaging stewardship and take back programmes. This, along with the recognition of a changing landscape and shift from voluntary to regulated product stewardship – as indicated by Government announcing six priority products under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 at the end of July 2020.

Paint packaging is primarily made of either steel or recyclable plastic. The plastic can be collected, processed and made back into new containers, as part of a circular economy solution, while steel is recycled through local scrap metal dealers. Paint too has solutions for recycling or repurposing, which are constantly evolving.

The desire to create the industry working group has been sometime in the making, with members of the New Zealand Paint Manufacturers Association driving the move. As experts in collecting and processing the paint and packaging 3R is being called on as technical advisors to lend our experience and  practical knowledge.

The formation of the working group is an example of an industry putting competitive relationships aside in order to tackle a common sustainability issue, and we applaud them for it.

With regulated product stewardship set to become the norm for a swath of industries in New Zealand over the coming years, the example being set by the paint and packaging sector cannot be overlooked.