An unexpected paint fee at Home Depot and a reader who apparently received a call from himself highlight today's edition of "Is It Just Me?" — where no question is too small for The Bottom Line.
Q: "Has anyone brought to your attention the new 'PaintCare' fee on paint purchases at Home Depot and other area paint stores? Although they tried to explain to me what it was I was left dumbfounded. Something about 'recycling paint cans fee,' which makes little sense to me since it doesn't work like bottle deposits. It's just a tax, a tax on what?"
Jim Penna, Avon
A: Since Connecticut became the third state in the PaintCare program last July, 100 paint retailers and 25 town transfer stations now accept leftover paint from both residents and businesses. Home Depot does not have any stores in the drop-off program, though all paint sellers collect the PaintCare Recovery Fee that funds set-up of drop-off sites, transportation and recycling or disposal of returned paints.
PaintCare is a nonprofit organization established by the American Coatings Association, which represents paint companies and professionals. The program accepts containers up to 5 gallons. Fees range from 35 cents per quart (sometimes called an Eco Fee), 75 cents per gallon and $1.60 for containers more than a gallon but no more than 5 gallons.
Not everyone will like the fees, but it's hard to argue with a paint recycling program. The state is loaded with unwanted paint that otherwise might end up as contaminants in local landfills. PaintCare says it collected more than 2 million pounds of it in the first eight months, through February. At PaintCare's conversion rate of 10 pounds per gallon, minus 20 percent packaging weight, that's an average of 20,000 gallons a month.
"I would be comfortable saying that we expect to collect at least 250,000 gallons of paint during this first year of the Connecticut program," says Paul Fresina, PaintCare's senior director of operations and communications.
Among the products accepted:
>> Interior and exterior architectural paints (latex, acrylic, oil-based, alkyd and enamel).
>> Deck coatings and floor paints.
>> Primers, sealers, undercoaters.
>> Shellacs, lacquers, varnishes and single-component urethanes.
>>Waterproofing sealers and repellents
>> Metal coatings and rust
>> Paint thinkers, mineral spirits and solvents.
>> Spray paint.
>> Auto and marine paints.
>> Caulking compounds.