Paint Stewardship Law

California was the second state in the nation to pass a paint stewardship law (Public Resources Code Section 48700–48706), which established an industry-led, statewide program following producer responsibility principles to ensure that leftover paint is properly managed in a manner that is sustainably funded. This page provides information on the paint stewardship law and its implementation.

Introduction to California’s Paint Stewardship Law

Californians generate millions of gallons of leftover paint each year. Prior to the passage of California’s Paint Stewardship Law, the only way for residents to properly manage their leftover paint was through local, taxpayer-funded household hazardous waste (HHW) programs. However, due to the immense cost to manage household hazardous waste, local programs typically can only afford to serve between 5-10 percent of the residents in their jurisdictions. Despite these low levels of participation, in 2009 paint represented almost one-third of the material collected through local HHW programs and cost local government millions of dollars to manage.

The Paint Stewardship Law supports a statewide effort to reduce the amount of leftover paint generated by establishing an end-of-life management program to encourage the reuse, recycling, and proper management of leftover paint.

Key Elements of Law

Below are basic descriptions of legislation relevant to the California Paint Stewardship Program.

    • Public Resources Code Section 48700-48706 set forth the requirements of the California Paint Stewardship Program.
    • Health and Safety Code Section 25217-25217.4 allows a location operating under the architectural paint recovery program that accepts recyclable latex paint to also accept oil-based paint. Facilities can accept recyclable latex paint from any generator, but oil-based paint cannot be accepted from businesses (with the exception of conditionally exempt small quantity generators). Paint collected under a paint stewardship program may be transported on a bill of lading, rather than a hazardous waste manifest, to a consolidation location.
    • Chapter 744, Statutes of 2014 (AB 2748, an act to amend the Health and Safety Code Section 2517.2, 25507, and 25513) exempts a business managing architectural paint from submitting a hazardous materials business plan to a certified unified program agency if the paint is recycled or otherwise managed under a stewardship program. AB 2748 prohibits a certified unified program agency from imposing fees upon a business that is exempt from the business plan requirements for processing the exemption.


The purpose of the Paint Stewardship Program is to reduce the generation, promote the reuse, and manage the end-of-life of postconsumer architectural paint, in an environmentally sound fashion, including collection, transportation, processing, and disposal.


    • “Architectural paint” means interior and exterior architectural coatings, sold in containers of five gallons or less for commercial or homeowner use, but does not include aerosol spray paint or coatings purchased for industrial or original equipment manufacturer use.
    • “Manufacturer” means a manufacturer of architectural paint.
    • “Department” means the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).
    • “Stewardship organization” means a nonprofit organization created by the manufacturers to implement the architectural paint stewardship program.

See the law for more definitions.

Key Roles

In very basic terms, manufacturers (either individually or through a stewardship organization), design their own stewardship program. They prepare and implement a plan to achieve certain goals and report to CalRecycle on their progress. CalRecycle approves plans, monitors progress, and provides oversight and enforcement to ensure a level playing field among paint manufacturers. Other service providers, such as HHW management contractors, local HHW programs, and/or retailers, participate in the program as negotiated through the manufacturer or stewardship organization.

Stewardship Plans

A stewardship plan defines how a manufacturer or stewardship organization intends to fulfill its responsibilities under the law and communicates a course of action to stakeholders and the public. Plans submitted to CalRecycle will be posted at CalRecycle’s Paint Stewardship Program webpage.


A unique and very important aspect of the paint stewardship law is that it requires sustainable funding. Paint manufacturers are required to demonstrate sufficient funding for the program via an assessment added to the cost of paint that must be approved by CalRecycle as part of the plan approval process. A stewardship organization collects a paint stewardship assessment for each container of paint sold in the state by manufacturers operating under a CalRecycle-approved plan. That assessment will be added to the cost of all paint sold to California retailers and distributors, and, in turn, each of those retailers and distributors will add the assessment to the purchase price of all paint sold in the state. The amount of the assessment shall be sufficient to meet, but not exceed, the cost of carrying out the plan. Any surplus funds must be put back into the program to reduce the costs of the program, including the assessment amount.

Enforcement and Compliance

Maintaining a level playing field among manufacturers is addressed through a combination of civil penalties for noncompliance and transparency that allows all stakeholders and the public to evaluate progress. For manufacturers to be in compliance, they must develop and implement a CalRecycle-approved stewardship plan, submit annual reports on the progress of their program, and submit an administrative fee to CalRecycle to cover the cost of services to administer and enforce this law.


Annual reports will be posted on CalRecycle’s Annual Reporting web page. These reports shall include information on volume of paint sold, postconsumer paint recovered, the methods used to collect, transport, and process postconsumer paint, the total program cost, an evaluation of the funding mechanism, an independent financial audit, and examples of educational materials provided to consumers. Annual reports are due to CalRecycle each year by November 1. CalRecycle reviews annual reports within the context of the requirements in statute and regulations and determines if the report is complete. Within 90 days of receiving a complete report, CalRecycle adopts a finding of compliance, non-compliance, or conditional approval.


CalRecycle used a rulemaking process to establish procedures such as:

    • Stewardship plan approval criteria.
    • A process for CalRecycle to accept payment for its services related to oversight and enforcement activities.
    • The establishment of penalty ranges that reflect a progressive enforcement approach.
    • Criteria for acceptance of annual reports.

The Office of Administrative Law approved the Architectural Paint Recovery Program Regulations on June 6, 2012. The regulations became effective immediately.


Subscribe to the CalRecycle Paint Stewardship listserv to receive periodic e-mail updates specific to CalRecycle-related implementation activities.