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Public sector calls in the decorators

Processing waste into something of value is at the heart of the recycling and resources industry, and West Midlands-based Paint 360 is a great example of this in action.

The paint re-engineering specialist, now two years old, takes waste paint and creates an improved product, turning it into a paint that offers great coverage and dries quickly, so saving decorators time and effort as well as diverting quantities of waste paint from landfill.

Innovation Strap

Lee Cole, Paint 360 managing director, explains that companies such as property services and construction firm Willmott Dixon are choosing its trade paint over others due to a number of factors, such as its ability to cover “a multitude of sins”, its quick drying properties and a small carbon footprint.

The company’s range includes a multi-purpose void emulsion paint that provides excellent coverage, often saving time on a second coat, a one-coat mould and fungi-resistant paint, and a paint designed to cover fire damage or dark colours in a maximum of two coats and one wash down, which compares with the traditional option of extensive cleaning and four or five coats of paint.

Paint 360 developed the products in conjunction with Willmott Dixon and Travis Perkins. Willmott Dixon is a major account for Travis Perkins. Travis Perkins, which sells the paint, has a division called Managed Services that looks after public sector contracts, mainly from housing associations, with which it has more than 100 contracts across the country.

Gaynor Peters, account manager at Travis Perkins, explains that its Managed Services sector is all about ensuring repairs and maintenance in the housing sector are done in the most cost effective and efficient way. This means that Paint 360’s product, with its good coverage, as well as its recycled credentials and small carbon footprint, make it a great fit for the demands of public sector client tender documents.

Void properties, where tenants have moved out or been evicted, will generally need to be re-let quickly. This means that any decorating needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. “Depending on the state of that void property, there is an amount of painting that will need to be done. Traditionally, it will take a painter and decorator a couple of coats to go over a certain wall to get rid of stains or freshen it up,” she explains. “With [Paint 360’s] paint you can often do it in one go and it is from a recyclable source. From my client’s point of view, if an operative can get in and out quickly then that is the best use of that operative’s time,” she explains.

Peters adds that Paint 360 has even developed a paint that covers nicotine stains, which are usually dealt with by washing the walls, followed by a base coat and a top coat.

She adds: “It is all about speed of application. If the decorator can get in and shave either half a day off or a full day off the time he has been given to do it, then the client has a benefit.” This means that properties can be painted faster and can be re-let quicker. It also means less void time for the properties and means that operatives can be used on more jobs per week.

Willmott Dixon is committed to rolling out Paint 360’s products nationwide and, according to Peters, there are several other clients that are either trialling the paint or would like to assess it. Cole adds that he is working with several contractors and housing associations, and has had discussions with big names such as Carillion, Interserve and Wates.

Paint 360’s product saves a lot of carbon during manufacture compared with virgin paint because 95% of the ingredients, including 100% of the water needed to make the paint, are already in it. This means only a small amount of ingredients are added to make its paints, making them more carbon efficient than other products. An independent assessment by The Carbon Footprint Company calculated that a contractor using the paint can run a transit van five miles carbon-free to each litre of paint used.

Cole believes that a combination of factors is making businesses choose its paint over others.

“People buy [because of] three things in the commercial trade: planet, people and price. Obviously, ‘planet’ is related to environmental and carbon [factors]. For ‘people’ we do a lot in social enterprise – all the people we have employed in the business are vulnerable young people or those who have been in trouble with the police. We have taken them on and moulded them into what we want.

“Price and quality have to be right, otherwise the first two things don’t count.”

He adds: “Because we understand what the market dictates as far as price is concerned, we are very competitive and, actually, when [the waste management companies] work out the price for dealing with the waste and bio-disposing of it and what they pay us, there is not a lot in it. We turn more paint down than we can take in at the moment.”

Cole explains that the company’s focus on social values is something that he and his business partner, David Francis, are committed to, and adds that it offers benefits in terms of employee loyalty and longevity of employment as well as seeing how individuals flourish.

Once the Paint 360 site is fully up and running, it will eventually be able to process 200 tonnes a month, which equates to around 42,000 tins of paint a month. The business expects staff numbers to become 16-20 by the end of the year from the current 11.

Cole’s vision is for the business to quadruple in size in the next three years and start reaching the numbers mentioned above: “At that point, we will maybe partner with a big waste company and/or a big paint manufacturer because once you have proven the concept and you have ironed out all the potential issues – which we are doing on a daily basis – then you have got a blueprint for limiting that amount of waste paint going anywhere near landfill.” 

In Focus

How paint 360 operates

Paint 360 takes waste paint from major waste management companies such as Veolia, Suez and Avanti. They each pool their paint and then send it to Paint 360 which accepts everything, rather than simply creaming off the best, and it is then sorted into “the good, the bad and the ugly”. The company also takes waste paint directly from a few household waste recycling centres.

Paint 360 recycles water-based paints into its 95% recycled content added-value paint, mainly used for the social housing sector. Any solvent paint is sent to energy from waste or to one of the company’s partners which can turn it into floor paint, depending on the ingredients within the solvent.

Paint 360 also ensures that the paint pots are recycled. It will part-prepare the used containers before sending them to partners for recycling into items such as traffic cones. It is also looking at creating a take-back scheme with Willmott Dixon and Travis Perkins for waste paint and pots.  

  • One of the contractors engaged by Willmott Dixon is social enterprise Bounce Back. It specialises in training inmates at Brixton Prison to become professional painters and decorators who are employed on release – a process that reduces reoffending rates. Paint 360 is a strong supporter of Bounce Back, and it has also helped to find work for 23 young long-term unemployed people, 11 directly, as well as donating paint to a number of charities.  

Public sector calls in the decorators

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