Paint Recycling

What to do with that leftover paint

Did you know that an average of approximately two gallons of household paint are sold for each person in the United States each year? While household paint is a regular part of our homes and lives, too much of that paint ends up in our nation's landfills, because people needlessly throw it away.

Paint should never be thought of as a "waste" product. The use of paint itself does not create waste, as with used motor oil for example. And paint itself is meant to be used up, and, when properly stored, it can last for years.

This is where you can do your part to help the environment!

Here are six steps that you can take to avoid creating or improperly disposing of leftover paint. But remember: with so many other environmental-friendly ways to deal with leftover paint, disposal is really your last resort.

  1. FIRST, ALWAYS BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED AND USE IT UP.
    When you buy only the paint you need and then use it up, there isn't any paint leftover to dispose. It's called "source reduction," and it's the same idea behind manufacturers getting rid of excess packaging, like cardboard CD boxes. When you can avoid creating waste or using excessive packaging at the start, you avoid polluting the environment later.


  2. RECYCLE THE EMPTY CAN.
    After you use up the paint, make sure you recycle the empty steel paint cans. This is as easy as recycling your aluminum soda cans, and each paint can you recycle is one less can that ends up in a landfill!


  3. STORE PAINT PROPERLY FOR FUTURE PROJECTS.
    Did you know that when properly stored, paint can last for years? Just make sure the lid fits securely so the paint doesnÕt leak, and store the paint can upside down. The paint will create a tight seal around the lid, keeping the paint fresh until you need it again for use on touch-up jobs and smaller projects.

    If you still have leftover paint, then you should...


  4. DONATE IT.
    ALWAYS donate your useable leftover paint to churches, community groups, theater groups and others who need or want it before considering any form of disposal.

    Almost everyone can use up or donate leftover paint. But, if you still have leftover latex- or solvent-based paint, disposal is your last resort...


  5. DRY LEFTOVER LATEX-BASED PAINT AND DISCARD IT.
    Let your leftover latex paint air dry, ideally, away from children and pets. You can even add an absorbent material such as cat box filler to speed drying, and then throw the paint away with your normal trash.

    Remember, air-drying liquid solvent-based paint is generally not recommended, but if the paint has already solidified in a closed can, you can dispose of it in the regular trash.


  6. SAVE LEFTOVER SOLVENT-BASED PAINT FOR COLLECTION.
    Liquid solvent-based paint should not be discarded with normal trash. Instead, save it for the HCIA's semi-annual household hazardous waste collection program.