Paint Disposal & Paint Can Recycling
Do you have leftover paint after completing a project? Are you spring-cleaning years’ worth of almost empty paint cans from your garage? As with any potentially hazardous household waste, proper disposal is important.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
As with any potentially hazardous household waste, properly disposing of paint is important to protect our environment.
When poured down a household drain, storm drain, or onto the ground, paint eventually ends up in our rivers, wetlands, and watersheds, where it can be harmful to wildlife, fisheries, and human health. Pouring unused paint down household drains also causes sewage treatment to be less effective and more expensive by disrupting the microbes used in the process. By properly disposing of your unused paint you can help to protect our environment, our health, and our water resources.
Used paint cans need to go in the trash, but first make sure you dry out the remaining paint by adding sand, sawdust, or cat litter. When the contents are completely dry, leave the lid off and put the dried can of paint and the lid (separately) in the regular garbage cart.
Spray paint cans are highly pressurized and can explode with heat or pressure, so they cannot be disposed of in the household trash unless they are empty. To empty spray paint cans, lay out cardboard in a well ventilated area and spray the paint onto them until the can is completely empty. Let the paint on the cardboard dry completely, then dispose of the empty spray can and cardboard in the household trash.
When leaving paint uncovered to dry, be sure to store it somewhere safe, well ventilated, and out of the way where it won't spill and kids or animals will not be able to reach it.
You should never put an empty paint can in your recycling cart! The paint remaining in the can will cause contamination at the recycling sorting facility.
Is your paint in good condition?
If your paint is in good condition-- not dried or separated-- you may be able to donate it!
Find a neighbor or friend who can use it. Post on social media or online neighborhood forums, listing what paint you have.
If you have unopened latex paint, Habitat for Humanity ReStore might accept it.