Earth Day Survey: Millennials Set to Outdo Boomers in Paint Recycling Amid Rising Paint Sales

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PaintCare aims to reduce waste further through “Buy Right, Use It Up, Recycle the Rest” campaign partnership with potter, designer, and author Jonathan Adler and other influencers.

New data suggests that California millennials are set to do an even better job at paint recycling than baby boomers, the original “Earth Day generation.” According to a new Gfk/Ipsos KnowledgePanel survey commissioned by PaintCare, California millennials aged 25-34 report being less likely to have leftover paint stored at home, and more likely to have reduced their leftover paint supply in the last three years. Meanwhile, Californians aged 65 and older—many of whom are baby boomers—are more likely to have paint stored at home and less likely to have changed how much leftover paint they have on hand in the last three years.

The EPA estimates that as much as 10 percent, or 80 million gallons, of architectural coatings sold in the U.S. are available for recovery each year. But PaintCare, a non-profit stewardship organization running paint recycling programs in states that pass paint stewardship laws, was encouraged to find that most Californians (55 percent) have a gallon or less of paint stored. The survey asked a representative sample of 1,000 Californians about their paint purchasing and storing habits over the last three years.

The survey results upended some long-held views about the generational divide in California. The first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970, when more than 20 million young people took to the streets nationwide to demonstrate for more environmentally-friendly policies. Today’s millennials are roughly the same age as the boomers were in 1970—and it appears that, while they may not be buying homes at the same rate, they are set to surpass boomers in paint recycling behaviors if current trends continue.

“Californians are storing less leftover paint overall, which is a great sign that our efforts are working statewide,” said Jeremy Jones, West Coast Program Manager for PaintCare. “While millennials are less likely to be homeowners, or even have as much need for architectural paint, these numbers indicate that they are following—and even surpassing—the example set by previous generations. This is a good sign, since we all share a common need to manage unwanted paint, whether that’s using it up on other projects, giving it away to others in need, or recycling it.”

According to the GfK/Ipsos survey:

  • California millennials are the most likely of any age group to currently be storing one gallon or less of paint at home. Even though household paint sales in the U.S. have increased in recent years, 38 percent of millennials say they are currently storing "a little" or "a lot" less leftover household paint than they were three years ago.
  • 69 percent of California millennials report they have less than a gallon of paint stored at home, compared to only 42 percent of baby boomers aged 65 and older.
  • One in four California baby boomers aged 65+ (26 percent) reported having three or more gallons of leftover paint stored at home—and most of them (65 percent) said they are storing the same or a greater amount now than three years ago.

Earlier this month, PaintCare also launched a sponsored social media campaign with guidance on purchasing the right amount of paint for a home improvement project, offering ideas for other ways to use leftover paint, and showing how PaintCare can help people recycle their leftover paint, whether through convenient drop-off sites at paint retailers or large-volume pickups from their home or business. Influencers including potter, designer and author, Jonathan Adler are spreading PaintCare’s message, and encouraging their audiences to “Buy Right, Use It Up, Recycle the Rest.”

About PaintCare and PaintCare in California
Paint manufacturers created PaintCare, a non-profit stewardship organization, to run recycling programs in states as they pass paint stewardship laws. Through PaintCare, the paint industry sets up drop-off locations for unused paint, arranges for recycling and proper disposal of the paint, and conducts outreach about proper paint management. In 2012, PaintCare was launched in California and since then nearly 12 million gallons of paint have been recycled at more than 760 drop off sites throughout the state. For additional information, visit http://www.paintcare.org.

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Sarah Flocken
Civilian Agency
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