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Oregon Family Magazine

How Old Paint Becomes New Again

06/06/2017 13:16 ● By Sandy Kauten
Oregon is on the cutting edge of a nationwide trend -- paint recycling. Thanks to Paint Care, paint stewardship laws and Metro, paint recycling in Oregon is here to stay.

PaintCare, a non-profit that helps recycle paint, started its trial run in Oregon in 2010 and was made permanent in 2014 with help from Oregon paint-stewardship laws and Metro’s MetroPaint.

MetroPaint, on Swan Island in Portland, recycles more than 255,000 gallons of paint each year -- enough to coat the Golden Gate bridge seven times.  MetroPaint is part of Metro’s system for managing hazardous waste. The facility has been working to reduce the amount of reusable latex paint going to landfills through repacking and reselling it for 23 years.

For the past five years, MetroPaint has partnered with PaintCare, an organization that works to make recycling paint more convenient in states with paint stewardship laws. PaintCare, in turn, is funded through a small fee on new cans of paint.

MetroPaint, on Swan Island, recycles latex based paints that are recovered from more than 50 collection points across Oregon. The paints are combined into 21 standard colors and limited-edition colors, including metallics.

Much of the process is in sorting. The facility employs 13 workers from DePaul Industries to work in the sorting area where there are 20 sinks that empty to paint-filled tanks below the room. After their contents have been sorted, empty cans have a hole punched in the bottom of them so they can dry out and are picked up by Metro Metals, a private company not affiliated with Metro regional government. Metro Metals recycles 60 tons of steel paint cans from the facility each year. Once a tank of paints is filled, it needs to be matched to the color standard.

To do this, employees start by taking a standard color and painting it on paper. Then, a sample of the new paint is spread over a small section of the painted standard. If the new color needs adjusting, different colors of paint, never tints or dyes, are added to a pint size can of the new color to adjust it, repeating the process as many times as needed to figure out how much of those colors should be added to the actual tank to make the color right. “If it’s a standard color, it will be the same shade,” said Andrew Staab, site supervisor. “What we tell people is, if you paint to a corner of a room, paint one batch here and the next batch on the other wall, you’ll never be able to tell the difference.”

Once the proper color is determined, certain additives are put into the paint to control for biological contaminants that previous brushes may have introduced from the walls the original paints were painted on. A dry film preservative is also added. Next, viscosity is measured, and the paint is tested for hiding power, meaning it is checked to make sure that nothing underneath the paint will show through. It is also tested to ensure it can stand up to the scrubbing.

Then comes the canning process. On its way to the cans, the paint passes through three filters to remove any non-liquid particles. Solid pieces as tiny as grains of sand are removed to ensure that consumers may use the product any way they like, including through spray guns, without damaging their equipment. “The result is a durable, color-consistent paint that can help decrease the environmental footprint of your painting and remodeling projects,” said Jim Quinn, Metro's hazardous waste program manager. “Recycling paint requires fewer resources than producing new paint and is priced lower than most other products."  MetroPaint is sold for $13-15 a gallon at more than 70 locations in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This is about less than half the cost of other new paints.

This is a great program, both beneficial to the environment, and also good for the wallet. The videos are fun and interesting for the kids to watch too!  To learn more and see how MetroPaint is remade visit, or call 503-234-3000.  To find out about PaintCare and where to recycle your paint visit

●      MetroPaint is available in Eugene at Miller Paint and BRING Recycling.

●      MetroPaint is more than recycled, it's remade new. 

●      MetroPaint is less than half the cost of other new paints. 

Metro, Portland metropolitan area serves more than 1.5 million people in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. The agency's boundary encompasses Portland, Oregon and 23 other cities – from the Columbia River in the north to the bend of the Willamette River near Wilsonville, and from the foothills of the Coast Range near Forest Grove to the banks of the Sandy River at Troutdale. Learn more at

By Metro and Brandi Boyett