With an estimated 85 million gallons of paint going to waste each year in the United States, Dustin Martin, founder and CEO of Up Paint in Clarkston, saw an opportunity after being introduced to an upcycling company at a trade show.
Founded by Kevin Callahan in 2010, Denver’s GreenSheen reconstitutes paint that would otherwise end up in a landfill and transforms it into a product that’s ready for retail. Before Martin decided to partner with GreenSheen, he wanted to make sure the product was as good as new.
“It measures on par with what would retail at a store for around $60 per gallon,” Martin says. “We’re able to retail at $35 for the same quality paint because of the collection subsidies involved with the process.”
Today, Up Paint offers 18 colors, ranging from Taupe and Perfect Gray to Harbor Blue and Purple Haze, along with custom colors for large jobs.
The process starts with collecting the paint. GreenSheen is conducting a pilot program to gather returned paint with Ace Hardware in Colorado, Phoenix, Seattle, and Albany, N.Y., all near its own facilities. Additional paint comes from manufacturers that may have excess cans of a discontinued line or bad tints that weren’t retail quality.
Collection, of course, isn’t free. Through a program called PaintCare — currently operating in 10 states including Colorado and New York — all new cans of paint across brands receive a small markup from retailers at checkout.
That markup goes toward paying for the recycling process, which is charge-free upon returning excess paint. In states that don’t participate, like Arizona, there’s a small fee for recycling the paint when it’s returned.
Once it has been collected, the paint is brought to a GreenSheen facility where each can is opened, inspected, and dumped into a 250-gallon, color-coded tote before the mixture is tested, filtered, reconstituted, and prepared for retail.
To expand its reach, the company is branching out this fall into the painting accessories market with its proprietary EverGood product line, which utilizes a composite of bamboo fiber and resin that Martin says offers a 60 percent carbon dioxide emissions reduction compared to traditional plastic. The Up Tools product line will consist of brush handles, roller handles, paint trays, stir sticks, and more.
“The biggest hurdle for us, as a new category in the paint industry, is conveying the quality of the product,” Martin says. “I think the general conception on recycled anything is that you’re giving up some type of quality. The reality is that when you combine high-quality paints together, you get high-quality paint.”