Is this a circular economy for paint?

SeymourPowell has estimated that over 50 million litres of paint ends up going unused annually in the UK, up to 15% of the total amount of the product sold. Recycling and using old paint has typically been a laborious and costly process, but there are signs that this could change with a new collaboration between Dulux-owner AkzoNobel, innovation company SeymourPowell and a startup called Newlife Paints.

An industrial chemist Keith Harrison founded Newlife Paints after finding a technique that could effectively re-engineer unused emulsion into a good quality recycled paint product. The startup was founded in 2008, but significant barriers to scaling the concept technically and commercially remained.

Photo credit: deepwarren via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: deepwarren via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

For starters, there is a significant technical challenge even in simply decanting paint from the tins, a process that is usually labour-intensive and expensive because it is work that need to be done almost entirely by hand.

SeymourPowell were brought in to support on developing the technological solutions needed to meet these challenges and they eventually came upon a solution where a powerful industrial vacuum cleaner could be used and adapted to suck paint out of cans both quickly and efficiently.

A successful trial with waste management company Veolia has been executed and there is a growing confidence within the partnership that the economic value will easily cover and ensure profit in an operation where these large quantities of waste paint are re-collected and re-engineered into a high quality product.

Get the full story from Sustainable Brands’ Hannah Furlong: AkzoNobel, Seymourpowell, Newlife Collaboration Creates Circular Economy for Paint


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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]

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