An estimated 50 million litres of paint is wasted in the UK every year. Community RePaint, a UK wide reuse network, takes those leftover and half-empty cans of paint many of us have stashed under the stairs or in our garages and puts them back into use. The model is simple, donate your unused paint to one of the 74 local RePaint schemes and they’ll check it, reprocess or mix it if need be, then resell it to charities, communities, and individuals at a reduced cost. RePaint’s network of reuse is responsible for redistributing more than 300,000 litres of paint each year, diverting disused paint from landfills and sheds back into the hands of people who need it.
Community RePaint’s network of reuse is a classic example of the circular economy - of finding and creating value in what was once a waste stream and diverting it back into the economy. The benefits of reduced paint waste for the environment and for consumers is clear, but this type of innovation has larger implications. When organisations create value in waste streams like Community Repaint is doing with paint, it is possible that their model will be adopted by the industry itself. If old paint cans in the shed have secondary market value, you can be sure that the primary retailers will take note of Community RePaint’s model for putting it back into the market. If you’re a paint retailer or producer, why not close the loop yourself? Consequently, instilling circular principles in markets can be disruptive, and poses an important question - who benefits from the change?