You can’t leave out painting interior walls or old furniture when it comes to DIY home projects. A new coat of paint miraculously saves a dull room, brightening and giving it extra character. It also gives old furniture a second chance. But after a whole week or two of hard work, there will always be leftover paint.
Excess paint is one of the most common hazardous household wastes. In Australia, people buy more than 100 million litres of paint each year. Unfortunately, about 5-7 million litres end up in landfills, including the packaging and materials that go with it.
Improper disposal of paint waste can contaminate natural waterways and seriously harm human health and the environment. Here are five easy paint waste disposal tips to help you eliminate and safely dispose of paint waste.
How can we dispose of paint waste properly?
With safe paint disposal practices, paint waste and its by-products won’t do any harm and can be recycled into valuable commodities. Whether you’re reducing waste at home or you’re operating multiunit developments, here are the ways to best approach paint waste disposal:
1. Check the local guidelines
Each state in Australia has different local ordinances and waste regulations concerning household chemicals and hazardous waste. The local council enforces regulations to avoid the harmful effects of hazardous household waste and negate contamination of recyclables by half a per cent.
Paint and other HHWs are not allowed to be disposed of in regular waste bins. You might be charged a fine if you fail to follow the guidelines. It is best to contact your local council or visit their website for more information regarding their paint waste management plan and how to dispose of hazardous household items.
For NSW-specific information, click here. After doing so, you can now proceed to the next important step.
2. Dry and empty
In disposing of household hazardous wastes, we are all reminded not to pour down paint on drainage and sewer systems or the ground or throw tins on a trash can with wet paint due to contamination.
The dry and empty process is very important when disposing of paint waste and materials that come with it. Most commonly used paints are latex and oil-based, and while these paints are exceptionally good, they require special effort for disposal.
You will need to take latex paint to an approved local drop-off unit in some areas. While other areas permit their people to dry and dispose of it themselves.
For smaller quantities, you can pop off the lid of the can and leave it open in the sun for a while. If the sun can’t handle drying, you can use a newspaper, old clothes, sand or sawdust, or cat litter to absorb and dry out the paint.
For larger amounts, you can buy a paint hardener or line a cardboard box with a garbage bag and dump the paint inside with absorbent material. If it’s already dried out, you can throw it with the rest of your household waste (depending on your council’s ordinance).
Oil-based paints are considered more hazardous than latex. It needs to be handled very carefully. You can try the dry and empty process but make sure you do it outdoors away from people or pets. Your local area might also host hazardous cleanout events, so watch out.
3. Donate your leftovers
If you have excess paint and want to get rid of it as soon as possible, you can donate (non-expired) paint to your friends, relatives, local community drop-off units or non-profit organisations that might need it more. For example, Habitat for Humanity, church community groups, schools, or theatre groups looking to remodel their facilities or for any other projects.
Check whether the organisation wants or needs paint before you start lugging cans around your neighbourhood. Other organisations do not accept leftover paints for donation, but there are many options you can look into if you’d instead donate than dispose of them.
4. Hire a junk removal service
If you don’t have the luxury of time or any means to recycle or donate paint waste, it’s better to ask for professional help with waste collection. Rubbish removal companies know how to remove paint waste containing lead safely. Spare yourself the hassle and keep your home and the environment safe.
5. Paint recycling
Paint waste does not only mean just paint. It also involves by-products and materials used with it. If you have emptied the cans and dried the residuals, you can try giving them to different recycling companies.
Recycling metal and plastic cans should always be considered to reduce landfill usage. On the other hand, paint tools can be reused to save money and generate less waste. You can check out any recycling companies like Paintback or locate the local general recycling centres in your area.
Resource recovery centres
Resource recovery centres provide a place for household hazardous wastes to be recycled, collected and transferred. It is usually run by the local city council and is a safe, secure place for you to dispose of hazardous household items. Items accepted include:
- Paint dropoff.
- Pool chemicals.
- Fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent bulbs.
- Gas bottles.
- Electronic waste.
- Fire extinguishers.
- Photographic chemicals.
- Weed control chemicals.
- Chemical drums.
- Smoke detectors.
- Single-use plastic.
- Food waste.
- Green waste and garden organics.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and combat illegal dumping and overflowing rubbish tips. These waste and recycling facilities are easy to access, and you’ll find a dropoff location by searching online. Select your council and see what services they provide.
Things to avoid or try
Here are some tips on what you should avoid or try in your paint disposal waste management plan:
- Avoid putting paint in plastic bags in your rubbish bins or skip bins.
- Try to dry it first. If you have to throw paint away, you can add kitty litter or paper scraps to the tint. You can purchase a waste paint hardener if you have a lot of water-based paint.
- Avoid wheelie bins and kerbside bin collections. Don’t throw empty paint cans in the general trash – recycle them or take them to a transfer station instead.
- Try to leave the lid off paint cans when empty or hardened, so the waste and recycling organisation knows there’s no wet paint in them.
- Try to use all the paint up before disposal. You could use it to paint your fence or furniture.
- Donate any leftover paint to the council for urban parks, community garden design, community halls, etc.
- Avoid guessing. Whenever in doubt, always check your local council.
While some might consider keeping leftover paints for future touch-ups, others just can’t find any use for it anymore. However, household paint is classified as hazardous. It should never be poured down the drain or put into your curbside waste bins. Check your local waste management centres and consider hazardous waste disposal plans.
If you need a hand with painting your home, strata building, or apartment, get in touch with MrPaint today.
In 2014 Adrian quit his job and opened a painting business called MrPaint. Adrian is a strong believer in the ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ principle and backs this up by being a competitive track cyclist here in Australia.