Paintback takes unwanted paint and packaging and responsibly disposes of it, diverting it from landfill and vital waterways.

Research & Development

Research & Development Projects

The current projects that our research and development (R&D) team are focused on surround the following 3 themes:

1. The conversion of unwanted water-based paint into new paint products

Paintback is collaborating with BASF and Monash University (Clayton) on a three-year PhD program. A PhD student has commenced a program to look at deconstructing paint polymer and recovering titanium dioxide, which is a valuable resource to many industries. At present, the collected water-based paint contains approximately 50% water, this is being removed via a water treatment plant to retain the solid sludge. The water is reused in an industrial cooling system and the sludge is sent to landfill.

2. Recycling of unwanted plastic packaging

Most of the returned containers at a Paintback drop-off point are large plastic containers of 10 litres and above. These would usually still contain small amounts of paint which makes recycling a challenge. The R&D team are working with a research partner to develop new technologies to clean the plastic containers and recycle them into new paint packaging.

3. Process Improvements

Many companies are moving towards sustainable design principles for their packaging. We're looking at how to make the plastic packaging more sustainable and robust. Our founding member companies are part of the Australian Packaging Covenant, who have developed guidelines for sustainable packaging development. We have developed sustainable packaging design guidelines for paint containers that align with these guidelines, that also meet the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, the Transport Packaging for Dangerous Goods – Recycled Plastics Materials and the Poisons Standard.

We have completed a life-cycle analysis of our business processes so that we can benchmark out improvements and reduce greenhouse gas generation from leftover paint and packaging by improving the end uses.

Research & Development

Today, when you bring your unwanted paint and packaging to a Paintback collection point, we reuse and recycle as much of it as we can with existing technologies. We are also investing in research with the aim of diverting 100% of what we collect away from landfill.

Since launching in May 2016, Paintback has been collecting and treating unwanted paint and packaging across Australia. Now Paintback is working with scientists and engineers to create new ways to reuse and recycle unwanted paint and packaging.

When unwanted paint and packaging is brought to a Paintback collection point:

The solvent-based paint is used as fuel, replacing coal in high-temperature kilns that produce cement.

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The water is taken out of water-based paints, halving the volume of material going to landfill.

Icon of paint drop falling into paint tin.

Steel cans are turned into new steel products.

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We are currently working towards solving the issue of recycling heavily contaminated plastic packaging.

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Together we're funding research that we hope will:

Turn paint pails into new plastic products

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Turn water-based paints into other useful products

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Recover valuable ingredients like titanium dioxide from water based paints

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Help develop better packaging design based on sustainable design principles

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We have a research and development (R&D) program looking into new uses for unwanted paint and packaging.

Our research program is guided by our R&D advisory committee: chaired by aerospace engineer Prof. Murray Scott, chemist and former Victorian Lead Scientist Dr. Leonie Walsh, R&D and paint industry specialist Roy Rose, engineer and former BASF Managing Director, Ross Pilling and Paintback CE Karen Gomez. 

It is through the shared vision of Paintback and the Australian paint industry, along with your continued support that, all paint and paint packaging in Australia can be reclaimed, turned into new products, or converted into energy.

R&D Committee
Murray Scott Profile Headshot
Murray Scott
Independent Director

“It is exciting to be developing a portfolio of new technologies to help achieve the best possible paint product stewardship outcomes for Australia.”

Chair of R&D Committee
Leonie Walsh Profile Headshot
Leonie Walsh
R&D Committee Member

“After a career working at the front end of technology development and commercialization I am happy to be supporting an organization with a focus on paint products end of life value chain”

Ross Pilling Profile Headshot
Ross Pilling
R&D Committee Member

“An effective product stewardship program is an essential component of a sustainable paint industry in Australia”

Roy Rose Profile Headshot
Roy Rose
R&D Committee Member

“Paintback offers the Australian paint industry the opportunity to be world leaders in closed loop recycling of decorative paint”

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