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 eligible paint products. We eventually aim to recover 90 percent 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, Sustainability Victoria, Monash University, RMIT, USQ, Deakin University and Swinburne University. The research includes investigating:

  • Turning contaminated plastic paint pails into value added products.
  • Extracting high value chemicals from water-based paint.
  • If paint is a candidate to make geopolymer concrete – a type of concrete that is made of industrial waste and processed at low temperature. This would significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of ordinary Portland cement, which is processed at temperatures over 1400 degrees celsius.
  • The use of paint to replace some virgin 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.

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 this material. 

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 separated from water-based paints, halving the volume of material going to landfill.

Icon of paint drop falling into paint tin.

Metal cans are turned into new metal 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


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, Cheryl Batagol PSM, with more than 40 years' experience in the waste management, water and environmental sectors, R&D and paint industry specialist Roy Rose, former General Manager of PPG architectural coatings and Anne Neeson.

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
Anne Neelson Profile Headshot
Anne Neeson
R&D Committee Member

"It starts by simply thinking of waste paint as a great resource; and then harnessing that resource through R&D programs for new, innovative end uses."

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