Q & A: Community RePaint — Paint redistribution project

Community RePaint is a leftover paint redistribution project with 70 schemes across the UK. Madeleine Jones spoke to Sarah Burns, Community RePaint Network Coordinator to find out more

What are you most proud of with the Community RePaint project?

Each year our schemes redistribute over 300,000 litres of leftover paint into their communities. What we are most proud of is seeing how this paint is used to transform homes, community buildings and public spaces. From decorating children’s bedrooms to refreshing village halls to brightening walls with murals, the paint truly has a transformative effect which is so inspiring to see. 

Who are the main types of people who use your services?

Our schemes would be nothing without the volunteers who help collect, sort and sell the paint. They make the schemes what they are and are the friendly faces that customers see. Then a wide range of people and organisations visit our schemes, all looking for an affordable or an environmentally friendly option.

We get a lot of individuals, and also community organisations such as sports halls, community centres, scout groups, religious buildings, youth clubs and theatre groups. The launch of our remanufactured paint ReColour at two of our larger schemes means we are now able to supply much larger quantities of paint across the UK, increasing the interest from those with larger buildings, such as schools.

 

Image: bradford mural a local artist painting a mural in the jacobs well subway in bradford community repaint ethical consumer
Bradford Mural: A local artist painting a mural in the Jacobs Well subway in Bradford.

Where do you see Community RePaint five years from now?

We are constantly working to develop and expand the Community RePaint network. Our mission is to prevent paint from going to waste by reusing it in communities at an affordable price, which gives everyone the opportunity to brighten their spaces and lives. We want this to be the case across the UK, so everyone has a scheme within a reasonable distance of their homes. 

For us, this means opening up many more schemes – we hope to increase to over 100 in the next five years. It also involves working with our existing schemes to make sure that we have a large network of drop-off points which people can access to pass their paint on.

How can people be more mindful and eco-friendly in their use and disposal of paint? And how can we raise more awareness of this?

The very first thing people can do is make sure they buy the right amount of paint for their project. We estimate that each year over 50 million litres of paint sold in the UK goes to waste.

Also, recent research suggests 50% of us have between 4 and 20 containers of part-used paint gathering dust, which shows we really are buying more than we need. Our website has a simple paint calculation tool from Dulux which allows people to work out how much paint they need.

Disposing of paint can be complicated and expensive. It is also a needless waste of valuable resources. Homeowners will have different options depending on where they live.

They would normally be advised to take it to a Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) where it will be separated for incineration, or to solidify the paint and put it in their general waste. We offer a third option, where householders take it to an HWRC where it will be collected by one of our schemes, removing it from the waste stream and putting it back into use. We have a similar approach with businesses – rather than contacting waste management companies for disposal options, they can contact our schemes who will collect the paint and prepare it for reuse.

Our schemes also work with local retailers to make sure that any paint which can’t be sold, like mis-tinted shades or damaged containers, can also be put to good use. If you have leftover paint, you can find out how to pass it on to us here.

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