Ever wonder what to do with the old, odd-colored, leftover half-gallons of paint sitting in your garage? Recycle them! As long as they’re latex paints, they can be re-blended (several colors are mixed together, filtered, packaged, and redistributed for use), or re-processed (old paint is mixed with new materials to create more paint). Recycled paint is good for many reasons: it uses less raw materials, less water, and has a much smaller carbon footprint than paint made entirely from new materials. Recycled paint is also usually low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint as the VOCs actually escape during the remixing process. Metropaint has a video that explains the process.
Options for Recycling Paint
There other options for unwanted paint. Donate unwanted paint to Habitat for Humanity ReStore or find a community paint exchange program. If they’re oil-based paints, which are considered Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), drop them off at a location that accepts such waste; paintcare.org has a search that allows you to locate both latex and oil-based paint drop-off locations.
Ways to Prevent Paint Waste:
Don’t buy too much paint in the first place! Use paintcare.org’s paint calculator to figure out exactly how much paint you need.
Don’t worry about buying extra to match the color exactly; modern paint stores can match paint colors easily from as little as a quarter-sized sample!
Once you’ve finished painting, store the leftover paint properly. Cover the opening of the can with plastic wrap and then use a hammer to seal the lid tightly on top of the plastic.
Recycle empty paint cans with your regular plastic or metal recycling.
Mix small amounts of leftover paint together and use it to paint something (like a tool shed, garage, or workroom floor).
When you do buy paint, purchase recycled paint! Amazon Select Paints, NatureSecret Paint, Kelly Moore eCoat, Metropaint, and Yolo Colorhouse are just some of the companies offering recycled paint products. Many of these companies also offer reduced prices (or even free paint) for non-profit or government organizations.
If you have latex paint that can’t be reused or recycled, dispose of it properly. Paintcare.org instructs consumers to dry the paint completely before throwing it away. If it’s a small amount, let it dry in the can with the lid off. Larger amounts of paint can be poured onto absorbent material (shredded paper or kitty litter), allowed to dry, and then thrown out along with your regular trash.
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Photo Credit: Stephen Depolo