Monday, May 25, 2009

Amazon Environmental Spins Waste into Gold (Paint)

Amazon's color sample sheetToday's Star Tribune business section included a great story by freelancer Todd Nelson about a business named Amazon Environmental. Located in the northern suburb of Fridley, the company takes all the leftover paint that's turned in at the county hazardous waste sites and remixes it into perfectly usable paint.

Their product comes in 12 standard colors, and, according to the story, is popular with contractors and people who own rental properties, since they know they'll be able to get the same color whenever they need more. Plus, it's cheaper than regular paint.

In 2008, Amazon recycled 2 million gallons of paint in Minnesota and their second location in Riverside, Calif. They also recycled 200 tons of metal from the cans the paint came in.

And what's almost cooler than the recycled paint? They've created a use for the paint that can't be reused as paint. (About half of what they receive comes "prebulked" in 55-gallon drums, which means the color is basically mud.)

Founder Lorraine Segala had a background in waste-collection, while her husband, Dave Long, worked in the cement industry. Between the two of them, they invented several patented processes for taking the unusable paint and turning it into something they call processed latex pigment (PLP). According to the Amazon Environmental site:

cement companies use PLP as a raw material in place of shale, clay, limestone, and other materials that would need to be mined in order to manufacture cement. Amazon is the nation's only paint recycler which recycles 100% of the paint it collects.
Joined by Lorraine's brother John about 10 years ago, the three have built the company to $4 million in sales per year, with 24 employees.

I hope they manage to keep growing and recycling more paint. I wonder how many states have hazardous waste drop-off sites, as in Minnesota and California? That centralized drop-off is a key part of making this business model work for Amazon Environmental.

The paint can be purchased at Amazon Environmental's Fridley headquarters, 7180 West Commerce Circle, 763-572-0800 (
map), or at Paint Liquidators, 3869 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, 612-310-1302 (map).


elena said...

This is a great story: wow. Thanks for spreading the word on a terrific concept and company.

Ms Sparrow said...

I guess I'll have to start following the business section more closely. I missed that article.
Thanks for sharing it.