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Acrylic Paint Tubes

RSAF project spotlight: Sustainable paint practices

Helena Wadsley, an instructor in the Fine Arts department, received a Research and Scholarly Activity Fund (RSAF) grant in the Summer of 2018 after identifying the problem that paint disposal posed in the Fine Arts department. Helena noted students were dumping dissolved acrylic paint or polymer down the drain and devised a plan to look into both sustainable paint and sustainable painting practices to minimize the amount of micro-plastic particles from entering the water system.

Tests were performed on a variety of different paints to determine if an alternative to acrylic paint would still meet the learning objectives of the painting courses offered at Langara. During the testing, the pigment, binding material, ability to meet course curricula, and whether or not there were any strong odours present were taken into consideration.

Helena was able to determine that a walnut-oil based paint is the most versatile alternative to acrylic paint. Walnut-oil based paint is made without solvent and is able to be used in all the ways necessary to fully meet the curricula.

Next, Helena worked with Andrew Mosi in the Chemistry department to test a process for separating paint waste from water. They successfully came up with a process allowing for the waste to be separated so that clean water can be added back to the water system and the waste can be taken to a recycling station off campus. Since these practices have been implemented in the Fall 2018 semester, the Fine Arts department has significantly reduced the amount of micro-plastic particles entering the water system.

Scholarly Activity Steering Committee 

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