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Thomas Irwin met with the City Council at its April 2 meeting to discuss a proposed paint recycling bill.
Reminder Publishing screen capture by Tyler Garnet

CHICOPEE — During the City Council meeting on April 16, the council approved a resolution that shows the city’s support for Paint Stewardship Legislation.

Dalton resident Thomas Irwin met with the City Council at its April 2 meeting to discuss a proposed paint recycling legislation and ask for its endorsement of the bill.

Irwin is a Massachusetts paint stewardship advocate for a bill that is presently in front of the state legislation for the seventh time.

He added, “As a member of the Dalton Waste Management and Recycling Committee, we were facing the same daunting waste crisis that Chicopee faces. Rapidly increasing hauling costs and tipping fees and we are looking for a solution.”

Irwin has been visiting different municipalities across Massachusetts in hopes of gaining support for bill H.823, S.542 and S.551.

According to Irwin, paint stewardship is a program that allows residents to discard unwanted liquid latex and oil-based paints at a participating retail store any day that the store is open, without a disposal cost and without regard to where the paint was purchased.

The retailer collects the return paint in totes and when a tote is full, they call Paint Care who will get the tote, haul it to a reprocessing facility where the paint is then brought back up to the standard of new paint and sold to entities such as Habitat for Humanity and Restore.

Paint Care is a national agency nonprofit set up by the paint manufacturers to make it easier to recycle leftover paint in states with paint stewardship laws.

The costs for consumers would be 75 cents per gallon at the time of purchase. Eighty percent of the collected latex can be reprocessed to original specs and sold for at most 50% of the original costs.

Irwin discussed the benefits of the bill.

He said, “The first would be the service that Chicopee residents will value. It is quickly apparent by noting that 92% of 735 Western Massachusetts residents dropping off items at household hazardous waste days signed petitions asking their legislators to become co-sponsors. This suggests that 92% of Chicopee residents with unwanted paint in their basements or garages, and likely there are many, would support this bill.”

Irwin added that it will present no cost to Chicopee or other municipalities while also decreasing household hazardous waste days costs.

He also talked about the precedent this bill could set if passed.

“It will also be a model for future product stewardship legislation that will address additional larger items such as mattresses, solar panels and packaging,” Irwin said.

Even though the bills currently have the support of 28 state representatives and 12 state senators, Irwin added that the support of municipalities is critical for the passing of the bill.

He added, “This would help compel serious consideration by the Ways and Means Committee to take this matter up, view it favorably and send it to the floor for a vote.”

Irwin said he became an advocate after seeing success with retailers and consumers in Vermont, New York and Connecticut as well as Maine and Rhode Island.

Irwin explained that Massachusetts generates over six million tons of trash annually and has 3.2 tons of waste incineration capability.

He added, “The remaining 2.8 million tons of waste need to be landfilled and have to be hauled out of state at high, ever-increasing costs and with a carbon footprint.”

The City Council approved the resolution, which listed that the Paint Stewardship law will begin relieving municipalities and consumers of solid waste management costs, significantly reduce a toxic waste going to landfills and decrease greenhouse gases by the paint industry by 4%.
Ward 9 City Councilor Mary Beth Pniak-Costello talked about supporting this bill.

She said, “I am very happy the city of Chicopee through the City Council has put forward this resolution and is urging the Senate and the House [of Representatives] to pass the Paint Stewardship legislation.”

Councilor At-Large Robert Zygarowski added, “I think it’s a good resolution and we should support it.”

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