Guide to paint disposal & recycling

UK Home Improvement

Guide to Paint Disposal & Recycling

Whether you are a homeowner painting a feature wall, or a commercial contractor painting a huge number of homes on a housing development, you might be left wondering how to dispose of paint that you no longer need. Paint is a hazardous and flammable liquid, so old paint disposal needs to be carried out carefully and safely.

The Wrong Way to Dispose of Paint

Old paint cannot be disposed of in your household waste, and you should not dispose of paint by pouring it down the drain. Not only is paint harmful to the environment, it can also release dangerous fumes into your home and clog your drains. Hazardous liquids must be disposed of safely and responsibly.

Disposing of Paint Safely

To dispose of paint safely most household waste recycling centres require the paint to be fully dried. This prevents the paint from leaking and contaminating other waste. If you only have a small amount of paint left you could pour it onto cardboard or paper and leave it to dry before putting it in your household rubbish.

To find out about old paint disposal facilities available in England and Wales or for those needing paint disposal in Scotland you can visit their government respective websites.

Disposing of Old Paint

Larger quantities of paint can take many years to fully harden, if you need to dispose of old paint adding sand or sawdust can help it to harden faster, you could also try using cat litter. If you are disposing of paint in very large quantities, it may be more cost effective to pay a specialist paint disposal contractor to get rid of the paint for you.

Disposing of Emulsion Paint

Water based emulsion paints can be disposed of when they have fully dried or hardened, similar to any old paint disposal.

Disposing of Paint Tins

Empty paint tins and clean lids can sometimes be recycled; however, the most suitable method of paint tin disposal will depend on what the container is made of. Some paint tins are made of metal and some are made of plastic, check at your local waste recycling centre to find out which type of paint tins they will accept for recycling and disposal.

Recycling Paint

Storing Paint

Paint should be stored in a cool, dry place away from humidity and extremes of temperature. If stored correctly, a high-quality paint can last as long as 10 years, so if the paint is a colour that is still on your wall you could store some safely for future touch-ups.

If you have a large amount of paint left in the original tin make sure the lid is clean and reseal it. Alternatively, if you have less than half a tin of paint remaining, pour it into a smaller container or jar to reduce the amount of air and help the paint last longer.

Donating Paint

As it can be quite expensive, consider if you could recycle paint, or donate it to someone else if you no longer want it. Check for local charities in need of paint, recycling paint in this way can help benefit others and refurbish charity run properties. Some community schemes accept donations of paint to help out with projects in your local area.

The charity Community Repaint accepts donated paint from households, business and schools, and redistributes tins to people who need it, preventing good paint from going to waste. The charity is sponsored and supported by paint manufacturer Dulux and operates across the UK.

Disposing of Paint Thinner, Solvents and White Spirits

Paint thinner, solvents and white spirit can be stored for reuse for many years, however if you need to dispose of these hazardous chemicals you will need to check if your local council has a hazardous waste collection service, or speak to a specialist disposal contractor.

Any rags used with solvents, paint thinners or white spirit should also be disposed of with great care. If storing them before disposal you should place rags in a sealable metal container filled with water to reduce the risk of fire.

Think Before Disposing of Old Paint

As with all waste products, ensuring that we reuse or recycle as much as possible helps to protect our planet. Contact your friends, neighbours and local charities before disposing of old paint, someone else may be able to make use of it.


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