MetroPaint Is Recycled From What’s Left at the Bottom of Cans, and the Colors Are Gorgeous

MetroPaint got a refresh in April with the release of its newest palette of Pacific Northwest hues.

For 30 years, regional government Metro has been recycling paint. MetroPaint is made from what’s left at the bottom of the can after a job—used latex paint collected at retail and regional drop-offs is transformed into fresh new paint suited for the Northwest in both formula and palette, and available to consumers at $15 a gallon in stores in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. You’ve definitely seen MetroPaint around town: It’s been used on projects ranging from the Portland Street Art Alliance to the Bybee Lakes Hope Center.

MetroPaint got a refresh in April with the release of its newest palette of Pacific Northwest colors.

Program coordinator Oliver Dickston says that process started with an evaluation of all the paint taken in by Metro. Between two and four 40-foot containers a week show up to Metro’s Swan Island facility, where workers—who have all taken eye tests to make sure they don’t have any form of color blindness—sort it into different color-coded sinks. Pretty soon there’s a lot of big 250-gallon totes of paint.

Here’s how it works with, say, the hue of a Portland sky in April: a nice gray. “We do a drawdown of all of those gray totes. All of those gray hues are slightly different, but that gives us an idea of what the final gray range has to stay within, because this is a combination of all the grays in Oregon that were collected,” Dickston says.

Then those hues were sent to Miller Paint, where the palette was designed. “It was a great collaboration process to really start with the limitations when you’re working with recycled paint, but then being able to create standards that blend well together, so people feel like they can put together a complete palette for their home from just 12 colors,” says Miller Paint vice president of color and brand marketing Puji Sherer.

It really is an Oregon-friendly selection, with natural greens and browns next to warm whites and ocean-fog grays, and two bonus accent colors. “River Blues is a beautiful color for trim or a bedroom color. It’s got a lot more saturation to it than the rest of the palette. And then Brick Red is a beautiful red that will hold true for both interior and exterior,” Sherer says.

Other government agencies in the U.S. also collect paint, but most end up shipping it overseas. Only Metro collects, cleans, remakes and sells it to adorn local homes. You might say: These colors don’t run.