Paint recycling would be great, but, unfortunately, paint isn’t actually considered recyclable. This hazardous waste is full of chemicals, so you do need to make sure you dispose of it properly. Also, the paint can is recyclable, but you have to go through certain steps before you can use paint recycling for the can. Here’s what you need to know about paint recycling and how you can reduce your environmental impact when you paint:
The first thing to focus on when it comes to environmentally responsible use of paint is to use less! You can also use more environmentally friendly paints, but even then you need to be careful that you aren’t wasting tons of paint on your project. Here are a few tips to help you use less paint for your next painting project:
- Decide on a color first. All too often, consumers will buy an entire gallon of paint to try on the living room wall, decide that it’s a few shades off, and buy another gallon or two for the project. Use samples carefully, instead, and really decide on the color that you want to use before you start a project.
- Get exactly what you need. Consult a paint expert if you need to, but figure out how much paint you’ll need for a project, and get just that much. Even if you’re getting a custom-mixed paint, you can get more mixed later on if you run out. It’s better to start out with just barely enough or not quite enough than it is to have an entire can of paint left over!
- Save the paint for touch ups. Save the last gallon can of paint, stored properly, for touch ups. You never know when you’ll need more of that exact color. You can save yourself hassle and another can of paint by keeping some on hand from all your major projects – especially when painting interior walls.
Reuse paint, too
You can also dispose of paint properly by reusing it. For instance, if you need to paint the garage, consider mixing all the similarly-toned cans of leftover paint you’re storing and just using whatever color you come up with. This is particularly easy in today’s beige-and-neutral modern homes, where the paint you use in different rooms is probably not all that different. You can also reuse paint for community projects, for craft projects for the kids, or even use lighter colored paint as primer for later painting projects.
Dispose of paint properly
While paint recycling isn’t yet a possibility, most communities have a hazardous waste disposal department where you can take things like cans of paint, stain, and varnish. Often times, the department will give away these cans of paint and other chemicals for community projects or just to people who are not too picky about what color they paint their homes.
Whatever you do, don’t dump paint into sewage systems, especially not in drains that don’t lead to a water cleanup facility down the line. You can rinse brushes in the kitchen or bathroom sink, but never dump paint down the sink!
If you’ve used nearly all the paint in a can, you can recycle the can by first letting the paint dry out. Then, scrape the dried paint into a waste basket, and recycle the can according to the directions.
If you live in or around San Diego, check out paint recycling through Recycle San Diego’s Free Recycling Center Search Tool or call the County of San Diego to schedule your drop-off of paint. Paint must be disposed of through the City where you live.
County of San Diego Household Hazardous Waste: 1-877-R-1-Earth