4 Tips for Proper Paint Disposal

4 Tips for Proper Paint Disposal

One problem that comes with being a painter is that you often end up with a lot of paint. This might not sound like much of a problem at first, but what are you going to do with it? Some colors may be usable on other projects, but there’s a good chance that you’re going to have a lot of paint sitting around that you may not be able to match later on.

How do you get rid of it?

Obviously, just tossing it out isn’t an option. Neither is pouring it down the drain, pouring it in a ditch or pouring it much of anywhere. Don’t give up hope, though, because you still have a lot of options when it comes to properly disposing of your unwanted paint.

Donate It

So long as the paint doesn’t have lumps or contaminants in it, you may be able to donate it for use elsewhere. Stir it up to make sure that it still mixes smooth and check the can for rust or other damage. Check the label as well, since donated paints should always be properly labeled.

If you can find an organization in your area that accepts paint donations, they’ll add your paints to their stockpiles and there won’t be any paint wasted. Perhaps more importantly, that paint that you couldn’t use will end up bringing happiness to those people that the organization helps.

Recycle It

Can’t donate your paint? Try recycling it instead. Some community recycling centers accept paints along with the usual metals, glasses and papers.

Depending on the type of paint you donate, the center will either use it to create fuel additives (in the case of oil-based paint) or everything from plastics to cement (in the case of water-based latex paints.)  While you’re heading to the recycling center, don’t forget to take along any empty metal or plastic paint cans that you don’t need so you can recycle them as well. Be sure to clean them up first, though!

Throw It Away

You’re probably thinking, “But I thought tossing it out wasn’t an option!” You’re right, but that’s not exactly what’s being talked about here. This only applies to water-based latex paints – and before that type of paint gets tossed, it has to be allowed to solidify.

Mix in kitty litter, shredded newspaper or specialty paint hardening agents and let the paint can sit opened until the liquid in the paint is either absorbed or evaporates. Once the paint is hardened, it can be placed in the trash.

Be sure to check state and local regulations before doing this, though, since some cities (and a handful of states) do treat latex paints as hazardous waste. Placing items in the trash that are considered hazardous places sanitation workers at risk and can bring you some nasty fines if you get caught.

Waste Disposal

If none of the above options work for you, there’s still the option to take the paint to your local hazardous waste disposal facility. This is especially important if you have oil-based paints, since they are always considered hazardous waste regardless of which city or state you live in.

There will likely be a disposal fee associated with taking your paint to the waste facility, but look at it this way … that fee is sure to be a lot less than you’d have to pay if your business was caught disposing of oil-based paints improperly. Depending on what you were originally planning on doing with it, you could face tens of thousands of dollars or more in fines and cleanup costs.

What about Paint Thinner?

While we’re talking about proper disposal, let’s look at paint thinner for a moment. While you don’t have the same reusability concerns with paint thinner that you’d have with leftover paint, from time to time you will have to deal with the proper disposal of thinner products.

Depending on the options that are available in your area, you may be able to recycle used paint thinner just like you would your unused paint. If you can’t recycle it, though, you’ll have to take it to the waste disposal facility to have it properly taken care of.

Since you likely won’t have as much paint thinner to dispose of as you will paint, you’ll likely be better off keeping a drum or other large leak-proof container that you can pour excess thinner into until you have enough to recycle or dispose of.

You can then load up the container when you head off to dispose of your paint and take care of everything at once.

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