Schenectady

Paint recycler setting up in Rotterdam as state’s new paint stewardship program begins

Old paint is reprocessed at a GreenSheen facility. The Colorado-based firm is setting up a similar recycling site in Rotterdam. 
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Old paint is reprocessed at a GreenSheen facility. The Colorado-based firm is setting up a similar recycling site in Rotterdam. 

ROTTERDAM — A Colorado-based paint recycler is setting up shop in Rotterdam to make new use of New Yorkers’ castoffs under the state’s new paint stewardship rules.

GreenSheen, which also operates in Washington, Colorado and Arizona, is hiring 25 people and leasing 40,000 square feet in Rotterdam Corporate Park, and expects to be operating at 60 to 70% capacity there by August. 

Founder and CEO Kevin Callahan said Tuesday that he expects to be nearing capacity in Rotterdam within a year, as the program ramps up in New York state.

“We expect New York to be the largest state we’ve ever operated in,” he said Tuesday.

GreenSheen processes a combined total of 16 million pounds of paint a year in Arizona, Colorado and Washington.

“We fully expect New York to be larger than all of those states combined,” he said.

The New York state Postconsumer Paint Collection Program was signed into law in late 2019 and takes effect Sunday. It is administered by PaintCare, a nonprofit set up by the paint industry.

Under the program, paint manufacturers must register themselves and their products in order to continue to sell architectural paint in the state. Retailers and municipalities can participate by serving as dropoff locations for unused paint, which is shipped to GreenSheen, which recycles it for sale under its own label.

The program is supported by a new fee for consumers on paint and certain paint-related products: 45 cents for containers holding 17 to 127 ounces of paint; 95 cents for 1 to 2 gallon containers; and $1.95 for larger containers up to 5 gallons. There’s no fee for containers holding a pint or less.

The new fee is not a tax by the state and it’s not a deposit that the consumer gets back upon returning the paint cans. It’s a charge to cover the cost of running the operation.

WIDE APPLICATION

“We sell to basically every market you can imagine,” Callahan said. Consumers are typically attracted to GreenSheen products by the lower price and reduced environmental impact. 

About 10% of paint sold in the United States each year goes unused, GreenSheen says. Some of that is saved by homeowners for the touchups they think they’ll need to do someday, but the rest becomes a liability: Expensive to dispose of properly and legally.

Greensheen filters and purifies that waste paint into 18 basic colors, with options for custom tint with a little advance notice. It sells in 1- to 275-gallon containers at prices significantly lower than new name-brand paint.

Old paint, Callahan explained, can conjure a negative image in consumers’ minds of sloppy cans with congealed contents. It used to conjure such an image in his own mind. 

But 92% of paint that is received for recycling is in very good condition, he said, and third-party testing shows the recycled result to be as good as paint from major manufacturers.

“The reason for that is that it is the paint from major manufacturers,” he said. 

“The next step is proving to the customer that this is a very good product,” he said. “We have to kind of debunk that theory” about useless old paint.

Meanwhile, the old steel paint cans that come into the facility are crushed and sold for scrap that may be recycled into almost anything. Plastic paint buckets are shredded and sold to a paint bucket manufacturer. Greensheen has to account for this and every pound of waste as part of the stewardship program.

Having won the contract for the new state program GreenSheen could have located its operations anywhere in New York. Schenectady County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski said in a news release that the county was excited to have the new green manufacturing company locate here.

The Schenectady County Metroplex board of directors at its meeting Wednesday will vote on a $75,000 grant to assist GreenSheen in setting up the first latex paint recycling operation in the state.

DETAILS

The products accepted for recycling at drop-off sites operating through the PaintCare program will be the same products that are subject to the new fee at the time of sale. 

These include:

  • Interior and exterior architectural paints: latex, acrylic, water-based, alkyd, oil-based and enamel (including textured coatings)
  • Deck coatings, floor paints
  • Primers, sealers, undercoaters
  • Stains
  • Shellacs, lacquers, varnishes, urethanes
  • Waterproofing concrete/masonry/wood sealers and repellents (not tar or bitumen-based)
  • Metal coatings, rust preventatives
  • Field and lawn paints

Not included are:

  • Paint thinners, mineral spirits, solvents
  • Aerosol paints (spray cans)
  • Auto and marine paints
  • Art and craft paints
  • Caulking compounds, epoxies, glues, adhesives
  • Paint additives, colorants, tints, resins
  • Wood preservatives containing pesticides
  • Roof patch and repair
  • Asphalt, tar, and bitumen-based products
  • Two-component coatings
  • Deck cleaners
  • Traffic and road marking paints
  • Industrial maintenance coatings
  • Original equipment manufacturer shop application paints and finishes

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