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Where can I recycle household paint
Recycle

Where can I recycle household paint

Americans throw away 70 gallons of paint every year, according to the U.S. EPA, and that wasted paint could be recycled into new products.

By using one gallon of recycled paint, instead of buying a new one, 100 kilowatt-hours of energy are saved and hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide are prevented from entering the air, according to Earth911.com, a website supported by national recycling and disposal service Quest Resource Management Group.

To help keep leftover paint to a minimum, first measure how much your project needs. One gallon of paint can cover up to 350 square feet. If you end up with extra, there are ways to safely get rid of it.

Drains are a don’t!

After a meal, crumbs and other uneaten bits of food are washed down the kitchen sink. In the bathroom, the grime rinsed off in the shower flows out of the tub and human waste is flushed away.

Wastewater treatment plants comfortably handle these types of contaminants, but paint is a household hazardous waste that if improperly disposed, “can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health,” the EPA states.

“Certain types of [household hazardous wastes] have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers, contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets,” the government agency explains.

Make sure your paint can be recycled

Paints that should be sent to household hazardous waste centers include oil-based, “wood preservatives,” and mercury-containing paints. 

Those products, along with spray paints, are incinerated.

Water-based paints (also known as latex paints), though, can be recycled so be sure to keep those separate from the oil-based stuff. Avoid mixing the different paint types as they are reused and disposed of in different ways.

Although latex paint is generally known as non-toxic, some products (with mildew protection) might have pesticides.

Steps to recycle leftover latex paint

  • Pass the paint on to others. Cover the paint can with plastic wrap, and then hammer the lid on top of it. Add the date it was opened. If there is paint in the grooves of the can, wipe it with a clean rag before sealing it up. 
    • Call your local high school drama club or a community theater to offer the extra paint.
  • Combine small amounts of unused paints to make a primer coat for the future. If sealed correctly, your primer coat should last for 15 years. 
  • And you can donate latex paint cans to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore.

Where to recycle oil-based paint

You can recycle oil-based paint at the following locations:

Click here for more details, including how-to guides, for recycling different types of household paint.

What happens once it’s out of my hands

Water-based paint is recycled in two ways: reprocessing and reblending.

Reprocessing involves the separation of paint by color, filtering out solids, mixing it with new paint, and adding more pigments to create a new color. After the paint is reprocessed, the product is ready to be placed back on the market.

Reblending involves combining several paints to make a new color. Reprocessed paint is made into more colors, and reblended paint becomes neutral shades.

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Jessica Rogers

2 thoughts on “Where can I recycle household paint

  1. Your header above says that “You can recycle paint at the following locations” but the link takes you to a flyer that relates only to the disposal of oil based paints and does not relate to how to recycle water or latex based paints. It is an interesting article but you leave out the most important information.

  2. Thanks for flagging this Graham, we updated the header and hope you’ll consider donating any extra latex paint.

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