Lifting the lid
Laura Cartledge meets a company that gives old paint a new life.
Newlife Paints came to life because of a messy garage in Ford, on the outskirts of Littlehampton.
Now the family run business is award-winning, including being named a ‘green hero’ by Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud, and is stocked by industry giant B&Q.
While many of us can relate to having stacks of half-used paint tins it is still staggering to discover 50 million litres go unused each year.
This waste either ends up in landfill or being incinerated – neither of which are good for the planet.
“I think hardly anyone really considers the environment when decorating, they mostly think of it when it comes to getting rid of their waste paint,” says Amy Shipton, office manager and youngest daughter of Newlife’s managing director and chief chemist Keith Harrison.
In fact it was exactly this that inspired Keith. Unable to face throwing away stacks of paint while clearing out his garage for an extension, he was determined to do something about it.
“He rightly saw it a shocking waste,” recalls Amy. “A quick search online revealed that nobody in Europe seemed to recycle this valuable resource.”
Using knowledge from years spent in the paints industry, Keith set about finding a way to turn waste paint back into superior grade emulsion.
Two years of research followed and, in 2008, Newlife Paints was born.
It started as it meant to go on and in the first year of production alone reprocessed more than 100 tons of waste paint.
Now, as well as offering a colour matching service, masonry and exterior grades, Newlife Paints has refined its interiors collection to 28 shades known as Reborn.
However due to the fact that every drop in the Reborn tin is rescued paint, and mostly sourced from household waste recycling centres, is it hard to provide consistent colours?
“We get so much waste paint coming in that colour matching is not a problem,” says Amy. “We don’t get many very dark colours and very little grey. The biggest colour discarded is white.”
Natural clays are used to revive the paint and, in addition to being low carbon and eco friendly, the end result boasts a finish which has also pulled in the praise.
Whether you need to cover walls, ceilings or dry plaster and woodchip, there is no fear of style over substance here as attention has been given to both.
So what are the biggest challenges the business faces?
”Paint is quite a complex product and identifying, from an old battered tin, whether it is a type we can recycle can be quite difficult,” Amy answers. “We cannot take solvent based paint and some other types, for example flame
retardant, and we do not hold a licence to allow us to accept paint directly from members of the public.”
It comes as no surprise to learn the reaction has been positive.
“Especially from those who have used the paint,” Amy enthuses. “We need to be able to get more publicity that recycled paint is now available and is as good as virgin paint.”
The word is soon set to spread across the world as Newlife Paints are set to licence the project and teach others how to process waste to make good quality paint.
”We already have a licensee in Birmingham, another in Belgium, and a further five potential clients in the UK,” reveals Amy. “We also have interest from Holland, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.”
Combine this with financial sponsorship from Dulux and it seems Newlife Paints has a big future ahead. However there is one thing which will not change.
”Keith maintains that his garage was never untidy, but full of unused resources,” Amy smiles. “While Linda [his wife and Newlife’s finance director] maintains that it is more full of paint now then it was before.”
For information on Newlife Paints and the Reborn range, visit www.newlifepaints.co.uk or call 01903 716183
April 13, 2014 Interiors and Property