Luna Aston / Wed, 25 Nov 2020 15:00:00 GMT

Whether it's an old can of emulsion from a DIY job or acrylic leftover from your latest masterpiece. It’s important to know how to dispose of paint and understand the environmental effects they can have. Here you can find information about how to dispose of all types of paint

Storing Leftover Paint

If you can, rather than throwing the paint out, try and store it for a later date or any touch-ups that you may need to do.

The paint will last years if stored correctly, this will not only help save the environment but also save you some money later down the line.

When thinking about storing paint we need to ensure the paint is sealed and is in a good environment to avoid the paint going bad. Using a screwdriver on the lid of the tin can cause the lid to dent and cause the airtight seal to become compromised. The best way to avoid this is by using a tin opener """""" this will simply just pop the lid rather than warping it. The seal must be tight to avoid the paint from drying out over time.

You will also want to make sure that the conditions around where you are storing the paint do not fluctuate too much and are either not too cold and not too hot. This can easily happen when leaving the paint in a garage or shed where the temperature can get extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter. If the paint gets too hot it will dry up and if it gets too cold it will start to separate and cause a mess. Paint tins are best kept in places such as utility cupboards due to their regular temperature and low moisture.

storing leftover paint

Donating Paint

We have all bought a bit too much paint when decorating to ensure that we don't run out halfway through the job. However sometimes when we are finished we are unsure what to do with this leftover paint and in most cases end up throwing it away.

If you have too much paint and are unable to keep it for further touchups later down the line then you should think about how to donate paint, giving it to your friends or family would be the easiest solution, or even your neighbors if they want to do some decorating.

You can also look at donating the paint to local schools or churches, there are also organizations set up to recycle and reuse paint much like RePaint in the UK. If you are unsure you can ask your locale council or government for further advice.

donating paint

Disposing of Paint

Pouring paint down the drain can not only be damaging to the environment but also yours and the cities drainage system. Not only that but in some instances as the paint can't be processed at a water facility it may be pushed into the ocean which can harm marine life.

Liquid paint like most liquid wastes is banned in most countries from being put in landfills due to the environmental effects it can have. This means that the paint needs to be hardened before taking it to your local recycling center or dump.

How to Harden Paint

To safely dry out the paint, you will need to leave it a well-ventilated area away from animals and children. You can leave the paint with the lid slightly off in the shed or garage. This will take about a week to harden if you only have around 1inch of paint left in an average paint tin.

If you have a lot of paint left you will need to either split the paint into other tins to apply the above method. If this is not possible you can use a substrate such as cat litter or sawdust to help absorb the paint. You will then be able to dispose of this at the local dump or in your bin.

Disposing of acrylic paint - Acrylic paint contains a large number of chemicals that can be highly toxic to the environment and wildlife. Like with most products that contain chemicals it's best to dispose of them as responsibly as possible. Here you can read "how to dispose of acrylic paint".

Disposing of emulsion paint - Emulsion paint is a water-based paint that contains acrylic resins. Although water-based the acrylic resins are still harmful to the environment and need to be disposed of with care. Here you can read "how to dispose of emulsion paint".

Disposing of latex paint - Latex paints are considered less hazardous than standard oil-based paints as they are water-based however they contain acrylics that are harmful to the environment. Here you can read "how to dispose of latex paint".

Disposing of lead paint - Lead paint is extremely bad for the environment. The lead particles can remain in the environment forever which can intoxicate the soil and waterways. Here you can read "how to dispose of lead paint".

Disposing of oil-based paint - Oil-based paints contain high levels of VOCs and will also contain solvents that are toxic to the environment. These paints will impact the environment and need to be disposed of responsibly. Here you can read "how to dispose of oil-based paint".

Disposing of spray paint - The majority of aerosol spray paints are toxic and produce emissions that are not only bad for the environment but hazardous for humans. Here you can read "how to dispose of spray paint".

Disposing of Paint Thinner - Paint thinner is even more hazardous than white spirit. Even putting this product down the drain can affect the surrounding and neighboring soil. Here is "how to dispose of paint thinner".

how to harden paint

Is paint bad for the environment?

Paints and solvents can have adverse effects on the environment due to their production. Everyday paints can have a high level of heavy metals and chemicals, if not disposed of properly these heavy metals can find their way into the food chain. This is not only harmful to all animals and plants that end up with these heavy metals intoxicating them but will also lead to the human food chain.

Paint VOC Meaning

VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, they are gasses that are emitted into the environment and atmosphere. Many of these gasses have short and long-term effects on humans. There are low VOC paints that are less harmful, however, you should always check the paint label to ensure you are protecting yourself properly from the harmful fumes.

Paint Air Pollution

Paint can be highly toxic to humans if exposed for long periods. It can cause headaches, skin irritation, and will put pressure and stress on vital organs. There are also case studies that have been conducted that show that extended exposure to paint fumes is also linked to the cause of several types of cancer.

Paint not only affects humans directly but will also affect the environment. When these gasses react with the oxygen they create a negative form of ozone that produces a greenhouse effect that can add to the current global warming crisis.

Environmentally Safe Paint

If you are a painter and/or have children that want to paint for fun why not try environmentally friendly paint. There are a few companies that sell eco-friendly paint that is made from natural and organic compounds to greatly reduce the harm to humans and our planet.

The company, Natural Earth Paint has eco-friendly paint kits that can be used by casual oil painters and children. The kit contains the following all-natural and non-toxic ingredients:
  • Ten natural earth & mineral pigments in 2 oz. packets: Venetian red, orange ochre, yellow ochre, terra verte, ultramarine blue, ultramarine purple, black ochre, burnt sienna, titanium white rutile, and burnt umber. Packaged in biodegradable plastic bags.
  • 4 oz. jar of refined walnut oil.
  • 4 oz. jar of Eco Solve: non-toxic and plant-based paint thinner/ brush cleaner.
  • Eco Oil Painting Guide & Mixing Instructions
  • 100% Post-consumer recycled gift box

If you are curious and want to look elsewhere for more eco-friendly paints, it's worth understanding that acrylic-based paints contain solvents that are bad for the environment so avoiding these would be a good start. Water-based paints are far better for the environment than acryl however, most pigments in paints contain heavy metals which are also bad for the environment as they can pollute soil and waterways.

How to dispose of empty paint cans?

If you have metal paint can they be accepted at almost all household waste recycling centers for recycling? It's always best to try and clean out the paint from inside the can responsibly to help with the recycling process.

If your paint can is made out of plastic you will be unable to recycle it. However, it's still the best option to take it to your nearest recycling center as they will be able to dispose of it responsibly.

how to dispose of empty paint cans

How to dispose of leftover paint

If you have a small amount of leftover paint it's always worth putting this paint into a smaller tin or pot that can be made airtight. This will allow the paint to last years if kept in the correct conditions and usable for future touch-ups.

Can I take old paint to the dump?

Most recycling centers will take paint however it is preferred that it is given to them in a dried and hardened state. If this is not possible for you to do, however, they can do it onsite as long as it does not exceed 5 liters.

How to dispose of paint water

When disposing of paint water, although it may appear as just dirty water, the paint will still contain solvents and heavy metals. You will need to ensure that you do not pour this water down the drain or outside into the soil. In doing so, it can lead to the clogging of your drainage system as well as leaking the toxins into the sea which will cause harm to sea life. Pouring the water into the soil will also pollute the soil due to the solvents and heavy metals.

To dispose of your paint water, you can filter the water through a coffee filter or a pair of tights. This will separate the water from the paint and allow you to dispose of the two separately.

You can also dispose of the water but like how you can dispose of paint. If you pour this water into a bucket of cat litter, over multiple uses you will be able to start to dispose of the cat litter.

how to dispose of paint water

Can you put paint in the garbage?

You can throw paint in the garbage as long as it has been fully dried out. Depending on the amount of paint left you can either leave the tin out in the sun if there is only a little amount left in the bottom. If there is a large amount of paint left you can either use a Paint Hardener or you can pour kitty litter, sawdust, or paper scraps to absorb the paint.

After the paint has fully dried out you will be able to safely put the paint in the garbage.