every household has some type of hazardous waste. All painting jobs create
waste that can be harmful if handled or discarded improperly. When paint,
paint waste or rinse-water enters the stormwater system, it drains directly
into local streams and rivers without water treatment. Aside from causing
environmental damage, improper disposal of paint and paint waste violates
state, federal, and local laws, and could lead to costly fines or penalties.
Pollution prevention (P2) is
a term used by EPA and industry to describe methods and practices that
focus on minimizing or eliminating the generation of pollution in place
of treatment or disposal. Most paint waste is simply unused/unwanted paint
that is caused by over purchasing. Accurately estimating the paint you
will need to do the job before purchasing it and only purchasing that
amount is the best way to minimize paint waste. This is a P2 idea that
will also save you money! There are many online paint estimators to help
you calculate the amount of paint you will need. Here are some links to
a few good calculators:
tips to disposing and cleaning up paint properly:
Recycling is the best option,
but if your community doesn't have a program, you can't simply toss dried
paint into your trash can. To be acceptable for landfill, paint must be
There are a number of ways
you can dry up your excess paint*
- For small amounts of
paint you can
- Leave the lid off the
can and set it out to dry (Hint, leave the lids off the cans for
pick-up so they can see the paint is dry and accept it.)
- Pour the paint out onto
cardboard or newspaper in a thin layer and let dry
- For larger amounts you
- Give the paint to someone
who can use it (i.e., friends & neighbors, recreation departments,
theatre groups, housing assistance groups)
- Mix in equal parts of
kitty litter, sand, saw dust, crushed corn cobbs, or any other absorbent
material and let dry.
- An easy-to-use, nontoxic
product called Waste Paint Hardener shortens the drying process
for acrylic and latex paint to a matter of minutes. You can find
this product in most local hardware/paint stores.
As always, find an outside work area away from children, pets and rain.
Locked screen porches and storage sheds work well. Because oil-based paint
contains solvents and some latex paint contains mercury, it's important
to dry out paint outdoors in a safe place. Paint will take between several
days and several months to dry - it depends on the type and quantity of
paint that you have.
- Wash all latex paint equipment
at an interior drain (such as a tub or sink) or into a bucket for later
disposal down an inside drain.
- Let latex paint containers
dry out before putting them out for regular garbage pick-up.
- Allow paint solids in used
solvents to settle, then pour off the clear portion and reuse.
- Collect all paint chips
and dust and dispose of in the trash can. * Oil-based paints, stains,
and solvents are considered hazardous materials.
- Clean up paint spills with
an absorbent material like kitty litter or sand. Once absorbed, sweep
up and deposit into a garbage can for regular pick-up.
- Never pour any type of paint,
paint waste, or wash water onto the ground or into an outside drain,
creek, ditch, or street gutter.
More information on waste
More information on home painting projects from EPA:
to keep paint out of storm drains!