O’Mara, counties call for Assembly leadership to act on paint recycling legislation ~ Call it commonsense local mandate relief, fiscal, environmental action

Thomas F. O'Mara

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario (l.), Senator O'Mara and Senator Rich Funke express support for the paint recycling legislation.

Albany, N.Y., June 17—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee,  and New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario today held a news conference at the Capitol to call on the state Assembly Democratic leadership to approve legislation O’Mara sponsors to establish an industry-sponsored “Paint Stewardship Program” to reduce a costly burden on local governments that are currently responsible for collecting and disposing of most post-consumer paint.

The legislation (S4926/A6199) was unanimously approved by the Senate, for the second straight year, on June 6th.   The measure is sponsored by Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Syracuse) and is currently being held up in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. 

O’Mara and Acquario criticized the Assembly leadership’s refusal to act on the important environmental and mandate relief legislation this year so it can be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  O’Mara said that the legislation would create local jobs, provide fiscal relief to local property taxpayers, and encourage environmentally sound recycling and disposal of unused paint in New York State. 

O’Mara pointed to the legislation as an example of how government and industry can work together to implement effective environmental policies and programs.

“This legislation exemplifies how much we can accomplish by working together with industry on important environmental concerns.  Seeking common ground and cooperation, rather than government cramming unreasonable demands down the throat of industry, can help give New York State a more business friendly environment and actually result in better, more workable laws,” O’Mara said.  “Working together will go a long ways on reaching an end result on other important issues that would benefit our state fiscally, economically and environmentally.”  

In a memorandum of support, NYSAC said the “legislation will reduce local government costs while increasing resident convenience by creating an industry-managed paint collection network that adheres to clear convenience standards for residents across the state...Nearly four million gallons of paint are generated annually in New York State.  Most leftover paint is currently disposed in the garbage despite the efforts of local governments, which spend millions of dollars annually to collect and manage a small fraction of this unwanted paint through the household hazardous waste collection programs.”

The national Product Stewardship Institute (www.productstewarship.us) estimates that more than three million gallons of paint go unused each year in New York State -- with the costs of collecting and managing the paint’s disposal mostly falling on local governments.  Under O’Mara’s legislation, through which paint manufacturers would be responsible for managing the recycling and disposal of unused paint, local governments would save approximately $25 million annually.

The measure has drawn the support of a range of environmental advocacy organizations, paint industry representatives, and municipal agencies, including the: Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency; Madison County Department of Solid Waste & Sanitation; the Town of Southold (Long Island);  American Coatings Association; New York Product Stewardship Council; Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Environmental Advocates of New York; and the National Resources Defense Council.  The legislation was also cited last session as a priority bill by the joint, bipartisan New York State Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

In addition to reduced costs on local taxpayers, O’Mara said, a Paint Stewardship Program will create convenient recycling opportunities and green sector jobs, reduce disposal in favor of recycling, and result in less waste as consumers will become smarter and more efficient shoppers for paint.