Paint is not product usually associated with environmental leadership but Resene Paints picked up two major accolades in last year’s awards rounds. The company won the Trailblazer (Large & Corporate Business) Award at the Sustainable Business Network national awards and was also awarded Green Ribbon award by the Ministry for the Environment.
The Lower Hutt-based business has been in the business of paint production since 1946 when builder and company founder Ted Nightingale developed product, later named Stipplecote, to protect and beautify exterior concrete and plaster. In true Kiwi style, Nightingale made the product in an old concrete mixer in his garage in Eastbourne. Initially making the product for his own use, production was ramped up as the word spread among the builder fraternity.
Resene has pioneered sustainability since the 1950s and has been an early adopter and innovator since. Today under the leadership of current CEO and partner, Nick Nightingale, environmental issues remain major business focus. The company has three main self-stated considerations: to manufacture paints in manner that has the least impact on the environment; to market and promote paints and paint systems that are environmentally preferable and to maintain strong focus on recycling and reuse. This results in strong commitment to the local environment where environmentally conscious products are produced and supported by long term vision of waste reduction.
Nightingale says there has been strong awareness within the company of how much material – not just paint – is being created. Cardboard boxes are now expected to last 12 uses and are marked each time they are in transit, paint pails have been built to last; and Resene encourages reuse or will arrange for their recycling.
Judges for the SBN award praised the company for its long-term focus which goes beyond just short-term profits; in particular, that the company keeps the price premium on environmentally superior products down and affordable, and recognises the potential negative effects of products by responding positively for example, by choosing not to sell spray cans.
They noted sustainability is embedded in the company vision and that Resene influences the paint industry through the PaintWise paint recovery scheme and sustainable product innovations.
It was the PaintWise programme which saw Resene pick up the Green Ribbon last year. An innovative world-first paint and paint packaging recovery programme, PaintWise allows residents and painters to return unwanted paint and paint packaging to either designated Resene ColourShops or council facilities. The truck service visits the stores, processing the materials received. Good quality paint is reused and provided to community groups free of charge.
Waterborne paint is reused for covering graffiti, solvent-borne paint goes through solvent recovery programme and all packaging is recycled.

Sources: SBN, MFE, Resene

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