Paint the town green

Seagulls co-founder Cat Pearson and volunteer Lee Myers mix paint with help from Cllr Mark Dobson

Leeds City Council is working with an innovative recycling enterprise to keep leftover paint from going to landfill.

Seagulls have collected a staggering 220 tonnes of paint from half-filled pots from the city’s nine household waste sorting sites throughout 2011.

And the founders of the social enterprise – Cat Pearson and Kate Moree – hope to put even more unwanted but perfectly usable paint to good use after their contract with the local authority was extended earlier this year.

Emulsion and gloss that hasn’t been used can’t be thrown away with household rubbish. It normally requires specialist disposal as some of the chemicals they contain can be harmful to the environment.

The Seagulls team have been picking up paint pots from the distinctive pink pods at the city’s recycling sites since March 2010.

Rather than disposing of the unwanted paint, the environmental reuse venture mix and resell paint to the public at low prices. The service has proved extremely popular with over 110 tonnes of leftover paint being sold from Seagulls’ base off Kirkstall Road in 2011. For every tonne of paint reused, Seagulls can prevent 2.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from going into Leeds’ atmosphere.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Seagulls offer a unique reuse service that we are delighted to support. Unused paint has to be disposed of safely so it’s far better to reuse it – its better for the environment and helps us achieve our recycling targets.

“But its the ethos behind Seagulls that really makes it stand out. Not only are the team helping us reduce the city’s impact on the environment, they are providing a product at an affordable price while supporting jobs and encouraging volunteers.”

Cat Pearson, co-founder of Seagulls said:

“Our continuing partnership with Leeds City Council puts our social business on an even stronger footing. With a regular supply from the council’s sites, we can go on meeting the growing demand for affordable paint.”

Since the contract with Leeds City Council began, Seagulls have been able create four new jobs. They now employ 10 people and work with around 20 volunteers each year. The team are kept busy, with 4,500 customers going through their doors in 2011.

Unfortunately, some of the paint collected by Seagulls can’t be reused and needs specialist disposal. The team are currently looking for sponsors to help with disposal costs so they can plough money back into their not-for-profit operation.

Seagulls are based at Units 3 and 4, Aire Place Mills, Kirkstall Road, LS3 1JL and can be contacted on 0113 246 7510 if you are interested in buying paint or sponsoring disposal costs. They are open Monday to Friday, 10am until 4pm.

Paint is just one of the many items that can be recycled at Leeds’ nine household waste sorting sites. A full list of household waste sorting sites, their opening times and information on what can be recycled can be found at www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Recyclingsites.aspx.


For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk