One of the most frustrating things to most paint and coatings consumers is trying to figure out what to do with leftover paint and coatings after the completion of a project. Millions cans of paint are left over each year! Speaking from personal experience after having a five-gallon bucket of oil-based deck stain pop open and drain all over the basement floor, those old containers are a hazard and should not be left for long periods of time in residential homes or garages. Therein lies the problem: residential waste management companies will not accept paint or coatings containers with liquid contents and so consumers will often let the containers sit in garages and basements for months and sometimes even years (raises hand sheepishly).
As a paint and coatings dealer, this is something you can help your customers with. Becoming a “go-to expert” on recycling old coatings will give your store a unique edge that will keep them coming back to you again and again. First, you will need to do some research and decide how you want to approach paint and coatings recycling. Do you want to create a flyer to hand out to all coatings customers with recycling information? Do you want to allow customers to bring old cans and containers directly to you that you will then take to your local recycling center?
Here are several ways you can become a go-to recycling expert in your community:
Hand out a flyer with recycling information. This will be the quickest and easiest way to help your customers with their recycling needs. A flyer could be a simple as a list of nearby recycling centers with telephone numbers and/or addresses. Check PaintCare’s site locator to find your local centers. You will be able to create a flyer easily in MS Word or a similar word processing program (or click here to download our flyer). Make sure you include your store logo, phone number and address on the flyer so anytime your customers look at it, they will be reminded of your store. Have your local office supply store make copies for you on colorful paper that will be easy to spot later on when customers are looking for it in a drawer or file folder.
Have a refrigerator magnet created with recycling information. Giving customers a simple refrigerator magnet with your store logo and phone number along with a list of recycling centers in your area will literally keep your brand right in front of your customers’ eyes every day. At the same time you are helping them solve their “Where do I recycle?” problem, and helping to keep your community stay clean and green. The magnet could be simply a list of recycling centers, or you could get fancy and have a calendar magnet printed with your logo and store information at the top and recycling information under or within the calendar pages. Toss one into every coating customer’s bag along with stirring sticks and a paint can opener, and have your employees point out the magnet to them so they don’t accidentally throw it away.
Become a drop-off center for used paint and coatings containers. This option would require a bit of research, but may be well worth the time and effort. Let your customers know that they can simply drop off old containers at your store and you will take care of getting them recycled. Create some ground rules, such as only paint containers sold at your store may be brought in for recycling, and let customers know if you will be charging a small fee for dropping off the containers. Also, let your customers know in advance any of the rules they will need to follow in order for you to be allowed to take the containers to that recycling center. Remember to check with your local municipality to make sure you are allowed to store the used coatings containers for a short time until you can take them to the recycling center. You can also check PaintCare’s website to see if you qualify for free pickup of large quantities of paint. This service is only available to households or businesses with at least 200 gallons of paint that are located in a PaintCare state or jurisdiction (CA, CO, CT, DC, ME, MN, OR, RI or VT).
Host a “Recycle Day” at your store. If having customers bring containers in any time of the year is not feasible for you, host a special day once or twice a year and let customers and/or the general public bring in used containers on those days. Again, decide in advance the ground rules for your event, and what fees if any you will charge. Decide where you will be taking the containers after your event, and make sure to ask if the recycling center will accept a large volume of containers at once.
You may want to add an attraction such as free hot dogs and lemonade for anyone bringing in used cans and containers. Have a banner created for the outside of your store to let people know what you’re doing and when, and check with local nwspaper, radio and television stations to see if they would be willing to advertise your event for free as a public service announcement. Events like this could become something your customers look forward to and share with friends and family!
Before scheduling a recycling event, check to see if you need any sort of permits for holding a public event, hanging banners, etc. This option will cost you more money, of course, and you will likely have to pay the fees at your local recycling center. It will also take up more of your time, which costs you money. However, the exposure and goodwill you will generate from a recycling event could be well worth the expense involved.
However you decide to approach paint and coatings recycling, you will be doing a service for your customers and for your community. Make sure your customers are aware of what you’re doing by creating a page on your website, and let them know by email and in your newsletter that you have their back when it comes to getting rid of those old hazardous containers. Any way you do it, you will be solving a problem for your customers and become a “Go-To Expert” on recycling.
Click here for a PDF flyer you can print. Add local recycling centers and your store information by printing that information on self-stick labels and placing the labels on the flyer. You can also just use our flyer as an example for creating your own flyer if you would rather do that.