- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The price of a gallon of paint could rise 75 cents to fund a paint recycling and disposal program in New Hampshire, but it would give consumers a way to empty garages and basements of old paint cans, witnesses told a Senate committee Wednesday.

Most testified in support of joining a national paint stewardship program at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. If the bill is approved, New Hampshire would be the eighth state to participate in the program developed by paint manufacturers.

Consumers have a hard time disposing of old paint because drop-off times are inconvenient and communities often charge a fee, said Michael Durfor of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.

“We’ve made it practically impossible to dispose of paint,” Durfor said.

The current bill would create free drop-off locations for consumers.

Durfor and other supporters said the program will save communities money and is more environmentally responsible than the current program, which disposes of the paint in landfills and incinerators.

State Rep. Alan Turcotte, D-Allenstown, said people who have latex paint must dry it, often by dumping cat litter into it, which adds to the weight and thus the cost to communities to dispose of it. Some toss the cans into trucks picking up bags of garbage and when compressed, the paint contaminates the garbage and drips on the pavement, he said.

State Rep. John O’Connor, a Derry Republican, objected to the fee that would be added to the cost of paint sold in New Hampshire by manufacturers. He said that could hurt small retailers who compete with big stores.

“This is not a redemption fee the consumer can get back when they recycle paint,” he said.

Curtis Barry, lobbyist for the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire, pointed out not everyone who buys paint will have leftover paint to drop off for recycling.

The bill came under fire in the House from Republicans who argued the fee amounted to a tax on paint.

Under the bill, manufacturers would charge participating retailers 75 cents per gallon of paint to cover the disposal cost. The fee would be 35 cents for smaller amounts and $1.60 for cans larger than a gallon. A nonprofit organization designated by the state would run the program.

The American Coatings Association, a nonprofit trade association, is working with states to get them to join the program. Spokeswoman Marie Clarke said Oregon was the first state to test the program in 2009. Since then, California and Connecticut have begun programs and Rhode Island, Vermont and Minnesota are starting them this year, she said. Maine is scheduled to start its program next year.

Clarke said PaintCare, a nonprofit organization created and managed by paint manufacturers, is in charge of collecting the paint and delivering it to recycling facilities.

John Wimsatt, state director of environmental services, urged the committee to support the program as a way to move old paint out of consumers’ homes into the recycling market. He said some of the old paint can be processed to produce useable, though not premium paint. Small retailers in other states volunteered to be a collection sites because it increased foot traffic and sales in their stores, he said.

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