Sunday, October 24, 1999

Unused latex paint finds home as recycled Nu-Blend

Local nonprofit does the mixing

Enquirer Contributor

        It's called Nu-Blend, and its makers say it's a high-quality interior/exterior satin-finish paint.

        And it has one other selling point. It helps keep latex paint out of landfills and sewer systems.

        Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, a 21-year-old nonprofit organization, has been making Nu-Blend the past four years by reblending unused latex paint. Hader Hardware stores in Hamilton County — and now Butler County — serve as the paint drop-off sites for homeowners, retail outlets and paint manufacturers.

        “We're growing each month, but it's a very slow, controlled growth,” project director Bill Wojcik said.

        About 400 gallons of paint are collected from nine Hamilton County Hader Hardware stores every two weeks. The reblended paint, which is processed at the Nu-Blend facility on McMicken downtown, is then sold in 5-gallon plastic buckets for $42.50. Most paints cost double that amount — or more.

        “We don't manufacture paint,” Mr. Wojcik said. “We might have 10 half-gallons of different shades of white, and we put them in one big tank and reblend them to make a single shade of white.”

        In Butler County, response to the Nu-Blend paint recycling program has been good, said John Sanks, manager of Hader Hardware at 4727 Dixie Highway, Fairfield.

        “All business is like bananas — it comes in bunches,” Mr. Sanks said. “And so far, this has been pretty consistent. We're picking up about 65 to 75 gallons every two weeks.”

        Keep Cincinnati Beautiful approached Hader Hardware about the program. “It takes up a little space, and it's a little extra work, but it's worth it,” said Hader's general manager, Tim Cable.

        Denise Belanger, staff environmentalist with the Butler County Department of Environmental Services, said until this program was offered, residents and businesses here were encouraged to give their unused paint to someone else to use, to dry it out and dispose of it with their curbside waste, or to take it to an environmental contractor.

        Keep Cincinnati Beautiful would like to expand the Nu-Blend program throughout Greater Cincinnati, but needs to make a slight profit in order to do so.

        “We have a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, and so far, we've not had to give back a nickel to anybody who has purchased our paint,” Mr. Wojcik said. “But right now, we're not even breaking even.”

        He said most paint manufacturers support the program because they eventually may face mandatory recycling requirements by the federal government.

        “It would be an expensive operation because they'd have to open recycling facilities,” he said.

        For more information, call Mr. Wojcik at (513) 352-3711, or page him at (513) 929-7435.


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