Don’t know what to do with those cans of half-used paints that are sitting in your garage? Amazon Paints is the answer you’ve been looking for. The California-based company also has plants in Minnesota and Oklahoma and recycles paints and provides unique solutions for leftover paints — even paints that may have expended their useful life as a coating.
We spoke with the general manager of the Minnesota branch, Marty Bergstedt, to learn more on what they do, and how you can recycle your paints.
EnerChange: What reasons made you want to work for a company that deals with environmentally-friendly products?
Marty Bergstedt: I have been involved in the Environmental Services market on and off since 1988. Amazon was an opportunity to take service a step further, and actually supply a product as result of that service.
EnerChange: Can you explain to me what Amazon Paint does?
Marty Bergstedt: Amazon Environmental collects unwanted latex paints from Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) programs, businesses and contractors. We then open each container and sort the reusable paints into basic color feedstock drums of red, green, blue, yellow, brown, white, off-white and gray. These feed stocks are then mixed per a specified formula to make our 14 standard paints to color and consistency specifications, and packaged in 1 gallon cans and 5 gallon pails.
EnerChange: How did Amazon see the need to take recycled paints and make it into something new?
Marty Bergstedt: Lorraine Segala, the founder, saw the opportunity to create something of value from these unwanted paints instead of placing them in a landfill. She started Amazon over 20 years ago in California. The Minnesota operation has been recycling latex paints since 2000.
EnerChange: Can people donate paints? Are there any restrictions in what you take?
Marty Bergstedt: Homeowners and other residential community members can bring their unwanted paints to their county or regional HHW program free of charge. Those paints will then be brought to us for recycling. Businesses and contractors can bring their unwanted latex paints to us directly, and we will charge a process fee based upon the weight of paint plus container dropped off.
Amazon can only process latex (water-based) paints. Oil-based paints, solvents, mineral spirits, paint strippers, etc. cannot be processed or accepted.
EnerChange: If Amazon Paints didn’t reuse these paints, what usually happens to paints? Do they often end up in landfills?
Marty Bergstedt: Without a sanctioned collection program, paints and other household items that shouldn’t could very well end up in a landfill.
Totally dried up latex paints are acceptable to be disposed of in a landfill, and those solids can’t be remade into paints. However, liquid paint should not be placed in the landfill, and to intentionally dry the paint to dispose of in this way is legal, but not an beneficial reuse of the value still contained in the unwanted paint.
EnerChange: How do you feel what Amazon does has impacted the environment?
Marty Bergstedt: Since its beginnings here in Minnesota Amazon has recycled close to 2,000,000 gallons (20 million pounds or 10,000 tons) of latex paint back into reusable paints and coatings. Not only is this material that is kept from disposal, it also reduces the amount of new paints and coatings that needed to be made from new raw materials, saving both those materials and the energy needed to make and transport them.
EnerChange: Can you buy Amazon Paints in stores? If not, where can consumers buy it?
Marty Bergstedt: Amazon Select paints are available at our facility in Fridley (7180 Commerce Circle W in Fridley) and in restores and other locations across the Midwest and East Coast. Call 763-572-0800 for directions and hours of operation.