Old paint tins

Following our blog post by Seymourpowell back in March, we have caught up with the winners of Round 1 of TSB’s ‘New Designs for a Circular Economy’ competition to find out what’s new with their ‘Project Recover’.

“As part of a project jointly funded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, Seymourpowell have a made an educational video highlighting the possibilities, as well as the benefits, of paint recycling, and also identified a completely new technology to help scale and speed up the paint recycling process for greater business viability.

Part of the project saw Seymourpowell and AkzoNobel consult with two existing paint-recycling enterprises – Newlife Paints based in Ford, West Sussex (currently sold in 170 B&Q stores around the UK), and Castle RePaint Scotland, a social enterprise based in Fife. Both provided valuable insight into the current problems to paint recycling. Three main challenges presented themselves. Firstly is in collecting used paint – the average UK household has 17 half empty or unused tins of paint in storage, so there is a significant task in getting these back. A second challenge is in selling recycled paint; as there remain issue of brand and customer perception of quality – in recycled vs new paint

The third clear challenge, the initial focus for Seymourpowell’s design work, is around reprocessing ‘used’ paint – removing paint from old tins, remixing and so on. Significant progress needs to be made in reprocessing used paint to make it commercially viable. As part of the brief on this project, Seymourpowell identified a completely new technology which halves the decant time of old paint so greatly improving the recycling process.

Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at Seymourpowell commented, “Paint recycling is a real area of opportunity, economically and environmentally, yet faces many design challenges to become viable. Our initial area of work has been to help improve the actual recycling process itself. By halving the time it takes to remove the old paint from used tins, we believe we can dramatically scale-up and speed-up of the process, making it far more viable for businesses facing rising costs on raw materials”.

Sherwin added, “Many people believe that sustainable innovation is about as interesting as watching paint dry, but we’ve found this one of the most exciting innovation challenges Seymourpowell has faced in recent years. We’ve loved the opportunity to work on such a fledging process, and to support such a worthy cause. We are excited to continue working with AkzoNobel, and others, to further develop our promising paint recycling technology. All this can be better for business, consumers and the planet.”

David Cornish, Global Sustainability Manager – Resource Efficiency at AkzoNobel added, “This collaboration really helped us think through some of the tricky challenges of paint recycling. It’s an exciting area for us, but needs improving to become commercially attractive. Seymourpowell’s animation will certainly help us communicate the opportunities internally in order to bring the weight of our resources behind this research. We look forward to continue working together to further investigate this new paint recycling technology and how we and others might make use of it.”

If you have a closed loop idea that could reduce waste streams, enter the TSB’s new competition: Supply Chain Innovation towards a Circular Economy.