HOUSEHOLDS in South East England are stockpiling enough paint to coat the entire city, a recent survey has revealed.

Research by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) found that three-quarters of adults in the South East are storing unfinished tins of paint after redecorating, with almost a half of those tins (46 per cent) being more than three years old.

The study found that homes in the region have more than seven million litres of paint stockpiled, which could coat the footprint of the entire city of Brighton.

Research conducted in partnership with YouGov found households across the UK have almost 51 million litres of unused paint, which could paint the National Gallery in London 13,834 times.

With 98 per cent of waste paint in the UK being sent to landfill or burnt, the RSC is calling for the government to provide better support to local reuse and recycling initiatives.

President of the RSC, Professor Tom Welton, said: "We have found that most households have tins of paint languishing in cupboards, sheds and garages - and that while consumers want to be able to recycle, they face a postcode lottery, making it unnecessarily difficult to do the right thing.

"All this paint contains huge qualities of valuable polymers in liquid formulations to help it stick to your walls.

"It's unsustainable to waste such a commodity, and we're risking environmental damage through not re-using and recycling, so we're urging customers to write to their MPs to help highlight this issue."

The British Coatings Federation has been aiming to make paint more sustainable with its PaintCare scheme, which is predicted to increase the percentage of leftover paint re-used, recycled or re-manufactured from two per cent today to 75 per cent by 2030 - which represents 275 million litres of leftover paint.

Just over a quarter (29 per cent) of survey respondents living in South East England said they recycled paint they no longer needed, with 70 per cent unaware if their local recycling facility would allow them to recycle paint.

When asked why they stockpiled unused paint, over a third (34 per cent) of adults in the region said it seemed a waste to throw it away, while 76 per cent said they were holding on to excess paint in case it was needed for touch-ups or repainting.

Celebrity decorator and TV presenter Linda Barker said: "Decorating was a fabulous way for us to cope with lockdowns during the pandemic, but as a direct result of that is we've been left with an awful lot of unused paint - and while there are some organisations who offer recycling, coverage across the UK is sporadic at best.

"We all have a responsibility to be more sustainable and there is already a huge trend for making more environmentally friendly choices when buying paint, so we know there is a willingness to do this.

"We urgently need more facilities and ways for people to be able to recycle and reuse unwanted paint so it doesn't go bad sitting in a shed - or end up incinerated or in landfill."

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