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Mon Apr, 21

How to dispose of paint: your questions answered

Although it’s safe to cover the walls of our homes with paint, improper disposal can result in damage to the environment. As a liquid, thrown-out paint has the potential to not only damage plants and animals it comes into contact with but cause an unsightly mess too.

As a liquid, we might think of simply pouring paint down the sink. Unfortunately, paint disposal is not that easy. As experts in hazardous waste disposal, we’ve heard a lot of people asking ‘where do you get rid of old paint cans?’ over the years. But paint disposal is easier than you think.

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Old paint disposal: what are the types of paint?

It’s the big question after an exciting home renovation: how do you dispose of old tins of paint? Well, it all depends on the type of paint you’re dealing with. There are four categories of paint to consider when determining how to dispose of paint safely:

  1. Water-based paint, or emulsion
  2. Oil-based paint
  3. Aerosol cans
  4. Empty tins

How to dispose of emulsion paint (water-based)

Emulsion is water-based and so you might be tempted to get rid of excess paint by pouring it down the sink. While it’s okay to wash brushes in the sink, pouring large quantities down the drain is not recommended as this can cause problems in the piping and even can contaminate water supplies.

Water-based paint waste disposal techniques

Getting rid of paint such as acrylic is easier than oil-based paints. Water-based paint such as acrylic is not toxic and can be thrown away with the general waste provided it is fully dried out. Water-based paint can only be thrown away if it is solid, as liquid paint can cause problems contaminating other waste and its container, not to mention problems when your rubbish is removed by waste disposal people.

Leaving the lid off a tub of acrylic paint for a few days is enough to dry it out, but be sure to prick the paint before disposing of it to make sure there is no liquid at the centre. Alternatively, you could speed up the process by painting the remnants onto some card or adding in some sawdust.

How do you dispose of paint and paint cans that are oil-based?

If you’re working on a home project, you can arrange a domestic hazardous waste collection for the oil-based paint tin disposal. It’s also important to know that, if you’ve hired professionals to work on a home decoration job, the materials being used are still your responsibility as the homeowner. Because of this, you should make sure that the removal of waste materials is included in the quote provided to you for the work.

For larger commercial projects, where a high number of paint tins need to be collected and recycled, paint disposal companies can help to responsibly remove used paint cans. Arrange a quote for commercial hazardous waste collection to ensure your waste paint materials are dealt with properly.

How do I get rid of old paint cans such as spray paint?

How to dispose of old paint sprays like aerosol paint cans is quite straightforward. Simply ensure the can is fully empty by spraying it until no more paint comes out, then put them into your metal can recycling bin.

How to dispose of empty paint cans

The problem that makes disposing of paint difficult is that it is a liquid. This makes disposal messy and complicated. Empty paint tins are not so much of a problem but you should check if the paint was hazardous first, if so the empty paint cans need to be collected via hazardous waste disposal.

Can I throw away paint cans in the trash?

You cannot throw paint tins in the general waste, even if they are empty. Exactly how to dispose of paint cans depends on the paint left inside the tin. Even if the tins have been washed out they will still be classed as hazardous waste. This is because the paint, dried or not, is a harmful substance, and any trace of it miss when cleaning a tin could have a negative impact on the environment.

Where to take used paint cans that are empty

Whether the paint was water-based or oil-based, paint cans need to be recycled. Many paints are classed as hazardous waste, so properly disposing of used paint tins needs to be done with the help of a qualified professional. This means you’ll need to arrange a special hazardous waste collection, or otherwise take empty paint cans to a recycling centre that can deal with hazardous waste and knows how to dispose of paint tins.

What to do with leftover paint: UK paint disposal ideas

How to dispose of used paint isn’t as straightforward as throwing it out with your general waste. Let’s look at what to do with unused paint that doesn’t involve waste or recycling.

Your excess paint could come in handy to someone working on a project of their own. Before deciding how to get rid of paint consider asking friends, family and neighbours if they could use it.

You could go further and put a post on social media with some pictures of the paint shade and how you used it. Someone might be inspired and would be happy to get some free paint. Independent workmen might also have a need for paint, so this is a good way to get on their radar.

Casting the net ever wider, there are community projects in the UK that are always on the lookout for leftover paint. RePaint is an organisation that can connect you with groups in your area looking for unwanted paint.

Can you take paint to the tip?

Taking paint and paint cans to your local tip is one of the best ways to dispose of unused paint. Just be sure to check the facility can accept hazardous waste beforehand.

Can you put paint in a skip?

We’re often asked ‘can you put old paint in a skip?’ Due to the fact that paint is classed as a type of hazardous waste, it cannot be put into a skip. Paint that is dry and empty paint cans cannot be put into a skip either.

As a rule of thumb, only general household waste can go into a skip

Can you recycle old paint tins?

Recycling paint tins is the correct way of disposing of paint. All liquids are banned from landfill, including paint. However, you cannot recycle old paint cans in your normal household recycling bins either if the paint is oil-based. UK laws dictate that as hazardous waste, paint cans should be handed over to a registered hazardous waste handler to deal with.

Where can I recycle old paint near me?

The recycling rate in the UK continues to steadily grow. In 2017 we had achieved a 45.7% recycling rate for household waste. Our recycling efforts are supported by recycling conscious waste collection companies, and recycling centres up and down the country. When you arrange a waste collection with a company like T W Services you can be sure that all waste materials will be recycled where possible, including paint recycling.

If you’re wondering where to recycle used paint cans yourself, many recycling centres have the capacity to deal with hazardous waste recycling. However, you’re likely to be charged for taking paint cans to a recycling centre and there may be a limit to the number of paint cans you can take along.

Recycling paint pots: the process

The process to recycle paint cans involves sorting the paint into different categories: water-based, oil-based, aerosols, and empty paint cans. Different uses can then be determined depending on the quality of the paint. Some uses are:

  • Testing, filtering, colour adjusting and treating paint to be packaged and resold
  • Recycling paint into other types of coatings
  • Energy recovery, then use as an energy supplement
  • Paint containers are broken down and their materials used to make new items.
  • Propellants in spray paint cans are captured and re-compressed for energy recovery
  • Aerosol paint cans are flattened for use in metal recycling

Can you recycle paint to be used again?

Several paint manufacturers like Dulux run schemes to support more sustainable household paint disposal. It’s a good idea to check with the manufacturer of your paint whether you can hand in old tins to be used.

Are paint tubs recyclable if they are plastic?

Plastic paint cans are not yet as widely recyclable as metal ones. If the paint was oil-based you may need to arrange for the plastic containers to be collected by a hazardous waste collection service.

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