On a regular basis we are reminded both by the media and noticeable changes to the weather, that climate change is a real threat to our planet. It has therefore become increasingly important for us to look at our personal habits to see how we can reduce our environmental footprint1. In this blog we focus specifically on how our paint purchases can impact the environment and how Community RePaint can help you reduce your carbon emissions.
The impact of carbon emissions on our planet
Carbon dioxide is classified as a greenhouse gas because, when in excess, it traps heat in our planet’s atmosphere – a contributing factor to climate change. Significant amounts of carbon emissions are released into our atmosphere through both the burning of fossil fuels and solid waste, which is particularly prevalent in the manufacturing industry. Although the climate of our planet does naturally fluctuate, human’s industrial processes have considerably sped up and amplified the process. As is regularly reported in the news worldwide, climate change is altering our planet’s ecosystems, causing extreme weather events such as wildfires, severe droughts, flooding and heat waves, which can have disastrous consequences for people and wildlife globally.
Carbon emissions and paint manufacture
We use paint to decorate, refresh and maintain our private and public spaces. Paint can be an important medium for self-expression, but what impact does paint have on the environment? Carbon emissions are one by-product produced during the paint manufacturing process and will vary in amount depending on the brand and type of paint produced. In general, it is possible to calculate the carbon footprint of a tin of paint by looking at the manufacturers operations and calculating over a period of time (ideally a few years) the energy, water used, and waste produced for different types of paint manufactured2. For the purpose of this article, we will use Crown Paints calculation of 13.58 kg CO₂ equivalent per 5 litre of Crown Trade Clean Extreme Scrubbable Matt paint container3 as a guide.
According to the British Coatings Federation 703 million litres of paint and coatings were produced in the UK in 20194, which, if we use the calculation used by Crown Paints above as a starting point, amounts to an eye watering 1,909,348,000 kg CO₂ equivalent emissions produced in the UK paint sector alone.
So, what can we do to help reduce the carbon emissions produced in the paint sector?
Paint reuse and Community RePaint
Carbon impact data indicates that reusing paint saves a significant amount of CO₂ emissions for the paint industry. Approximately 50 million litres of reusable paint are leftover each year in the UK alone, either being stored in garages, attics or sheds by homeowners, end of line paint from manufacturers or leftover paint from trade, for example. Rather than allow this usable paint to enter the waste stream, Community RePaint help to distribute this paint within the community, helping to reduce the need for new paint production.
The Community RePaint Network is made up of over 65 schemes and in 2019 redistributed 365,988 litres of reusable paint. No two schemes are the same, varying in size, operational set up and motivational drivers, but they all have the same vision – to create communities where everyone has the opportunity to brighten their spaces and their lives. Our paint has helped local groups and charities refresh shared spaces and create colourful murals for the community; enabled individuals to redecorate their homes at a low cost; and provided employment, training and volunteer opportunities building valuable skills and experience.
Our schemes sell a range of different paint brands, finishes and colours, but due to the nature of paint donations, they vary from scheme to scheme and from week to week. We therefore recommend to call your local scheme in advance of any visit to see if they have what you are looking for in stock.
Buying leftover, perfectly reusable paint from a Community RePaint scheme can reduce your carbon footprint and help reduce the speed of climate change. With 365,988 litres of paint redistributed in 2019 on the network, an estimated 988,168kg CO2 equivalent was saved from new paint production. Just imagine how much CO2 could be saved if the 50 million litres of leftover paint in the UK was reused.
If you have leftover paint from your household find your nearest drop-off point here, where it will be collected by a scheme who will reuse it. If you are a manufacturer, retailer, decorator or local company your local Community RePaint scheme may be able to help. Find out more here.
Paint donation container located at Community RePaint Camden located at Regis Road Recycling Centre