Paintback, ingeniously building a better future with Australia’s unwanted paint and packaging.

Research & Development

Research & Development Projects

Architectural and decorative paint is at the heart of Paintback’s research mission to divert 90 per cent of Australia’s unwanted paint and packaging out of landfill and vital waterways and into the country’s budding circular economy.

Paintback is the official product stewardship program for Australian paint, which is supported by paint manufacturers and funded by a 15c-per-litre levy on paint products. We eventually aim to recover 90 per cent of unwanted paint and packaging and transform them for use in Australia’s circular economy – where products are re-used or repurposed for other manufacturing or industry processes to keep them circulating instead of being discarded permanently.

To do this, Paintback has begun an ambitious five-pronged research and development program to kickstart the hunt for new ways to use unwanted paint and packaging in Australia.

The research program involves separate partnerships with the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineering Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy, the Smartcrete Co-operative Research Centre, the Australian Road Research Board and Pact Group’s Astron Sustainability. Research includes investigating:

  • Turning plastic paint pails into cleaned and shredded plastic to produce new paint pails, reducing the reliance on virgin material. The manufacturing process has been tested and it is hoped they will go into production in Melbourne this year.
  • If paint is a candidate to make geopolymer concrete – a type of concrete that is made of industrial waste and processed at room temperature. This would significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of other cements, which is processed at temperatures over 1400 degrees celsius.
  • How paint ingredients might replace some of the chemicals currently used in road construction products.
  • The use of paint to replace admixtures in concrete.
  • Proof-of-concept research to combine plastic from recovered pails with other waste streams such as glass, carbon, and natural fibres to produce high-performance composites for the construction industry.

Paintback Circular Economy

Research & Development

Today, when you bring your unwanted paint and packaging to a Paintback collection point, we reuse and recycle as much of it as we can with existing technologies. We are also investing in research with the aim of diverting 90% of what we collect away from landfill.

Since launching in May 2016, Paintback has been collecting and treating unwanted paint and packaging across Australia. Now Paintback is working with scientists and engineers to create new ways to reuse and recycle unwanted paint and packaging.

When unwanted paint and packaging is brought to a Paintback collection point:

The solvent-based paint is used as fuel, replacing coal in high-temperature kilns that produce cement.

Icon on paint being  poured into a paint funnel

The water is taken out of water-based paints, halving the volume of material going to landfill.

Icon of paint drop falling into paint tin.

Steel cans are turned into new steel products.

Icon of recyling centre

We are currently working towards solving the issue of recycling heavily contaminated plastic packaging.

Icon of recycled paint tin

Together we're funding research that we hope will:

Turn paint pails into new plastic products


Turn water-based paints into other useful products

Droplet of water

Recover valuable ingredients like titanium dioxide from water based paints


Help develop better packaging design based on sustainable design principles

Cardboard box

We have a research and development (R&D) program looking into new uses for unwanted paint and packaging.

Our research program is guided by our R&D advisory committee: chaired by aerospace engineer Prof. Murray Scott, chemist and former Victorian Lead Scientist Dr. Leonie Walsh, R&D and paint industry specialist Roy Rose and Paintback Chief Executive Karen Gomez. 

It is through the shared vision of Paintback and the Australian paint industry, along with your continued support that, all paint and paint packaging in Australia can be reclaimed, turned into new products, or converted into energy.

R&D Committee
Cheryl Batagol
Cheryl Batagol PSM
R&D Committee Member

“Leadership in researching breakthrough solutions for product stewardship is critical in creating a circular economy for the paint industry.”

Roy Rose Profile Headshot
Roy Rose
R&D Committee Member

"Paintback offers the Australian paint industry the opportunity to be world leaders in closed loop recycling of decorative paint"


Murray Scott Profile Headshot
Murray Scott
Independent Director

“It is exciting to be developing a portfolio of new technologies to help achieve the best possible paint product stewardship outcomes for Australia.”

Chairman of R&D Committee
Leonie Walsh Profile Headshot
Leonie Walsh
R&D Committee Member

“After a career working at the front end of technology development and commercialization I am happy to be supporting an organization with a focus on paint products end of life value chain”

Karen Gomen Profile Headshot
Karen Gomez
Chief Executive and Director

“It is the opportunity to undertake lifecycle thinking with the supply chain and support the community’s commitment to recycling, turning paint’s colourful past into a brighter future.”

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