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Paint Storage and Disposal

Properly storing and disposing of your left over paint:

Placing wet paint in the garbage or pouring paint out into the street is against the law and can harm the environment.

  1. Splash Painting will Label paint for the job:
    After the job Is complete paints and pour into a specified air tight container and labeled stating the date, product, color and areas the paint was used in.

  2. For touch up the owner should:
    Put the left over paint for touching up in a controlled environment and stored in a place that is easy to remember and convenient to access for future use.

  3. Splash Painting will dispose of extra paint per the owners request:
    Many areas will allow you dispose of latex paint with your trash once the paint has dried. A inexpensive way to dispose of paint is to add a bit of cat litter to help dry the paint or go to your local paint store to get paint hardener to dispose of your left over paint proper.

Splash Painting will properly dispose of Paint one of the following ways: 

Paint Management:

While paint is manufactured to be fully used, in the aftermath of a painting project, it is not uncommon to find unopened and partially used cans of paint in garages, basements, sheds and attics. This post-consumer paint raises a question, What to do with Leftover or Post-Consumer Paint?

Try to buy the right amount of paint for your project:

Do your part to help better manage our world’s natural resources. Follow the steps listed below and you will be improving the environment by following the 3R’s … Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

    Be a wise consumer and try to buy only what you need. Check with your local paint dealer for instructions on how to determine the correct volume of paint required for your project. When you purchase the right volume of paint, it eliminates the need to store or dispose/recycle paint when the project is finished, and it might even save you money. When your painting project is complete, take a look in the can. If there is only a small quantity of paint left, use it up. Paint out the last inch-or-two of paint in the bottom of the can.This is allot easer than said even as a paint contractor, reading the approximate coverage per gallon it is still hard to determine the proper amount of paint, do to all the enables that can affect the distance the paint will cover.

    If your project is complete and you still have a fair amount of paint leftover, be sure to correctly store the paint. Proper paint storage will eliminate safety concerns and keep your paint fresh for touch-ups or future projects. For best results, cover the opening of the paint can with plastic wrap and securely seal the lid. When you are sure the lid is leak-proof, turn the can upside down and store it in a place with a moderate room temperature to avoid freezing. Be sure to choose a safe location that is out of the reach of children and pets.

    Now that you have safely stored your leftover paint, don’t forget about it. Leftover paint can be used for touch-ups or smaller projects and lighter colors can be taken back to a paint retailer and be re tinted for another paint project. Record the room name on the lid for future touch ups. You can blend and mix smaller quantities of latex paint to use as a base coat on larger jobs. Perhaps, you know a neighbor or relative who could use your leftover paint; now, that’s being environmentally friendly!

    If you can’t make use of the paint yourself, donate your useable leftover paint to a worthwhile community association, theatre company, church group or other local organizations that may be in need of good paint. Perhaps, your community offers a paint exchange event or a special paint collection program. Many communities collect paint for reuse, recycling or as a last resort, proper disposal through local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection programs. Check the “Earth 911” Paint Wise web portal at or call 1-800-clean-up, to learn about paint reuse, recycling and HHW collection programs that are available in your community.

    If there is not a leftover paint collection program available in your area, you may need to dispose of leftover latex paint yourself. Air-drying of liquid alkyd or oil based paint is not considered safe. In regions that allow it, let your latex paint air dry in a safe location or put a drying substance and keep away from children and pets until dry. A small amount of paint, less than ½ inch, in the bottom of a paint can is easily dried out by leaving the lid off. Once the paint is hard, discard the paint can with the lid off, preferably in a metal recycling program. If metal recycling is not available or the paint container is plastic, dispose of the container in the garbage. Larger volumes of latex paint can be dried in a box with absorbent material such as shredded paper or kitty litter. Recycle the empty can with the lid off and dispose of the dried out latex paint as garbage. If the paint in the can is solidified all the way through, it may be disposed of as garbage with the lid off to prevent the build up of pressure in the can.

Download the full color brochure:

Latex Paint Disposal:

Liquid wastes are restricted from municipal solid waste landfills – never throw away leftover liquid paints in your trash.

Disposal Steps

  1. Unused latex paint should be poured into an absorbent material such as a cat box filler, shredded newspaper or sawdust.

  2. Let it dry completely and dispose of the dried material in your regular trash.

  3. In areas where recycling programs exist, save the dry, empty containers with the lids off for a steel recycling program. Small amounts of dried residue will not hinder steel can recycling.

  4. Wash your paint brushes and painting tools in the sink. Never clean your paint brushes near a storm sewer drain.

Solvent-Based Paint Disposal:

Solvent-based or alkyd paints require special disposal practices. Solvent-based paints are ignitable and present particular hazards. These products should not be emptied into storm sewers, household drains (especially if you have a septic tank) or on the ground.

Disposal Steps

  1. Save solvent-based paints for a household hazardous waste collection program or contact your local/state government environmental protection agency for guidance on reuse or disposal of unwanted solvent-based paint products.

  2. In areas where recycling programs exist, save the dry, empty containers with the lids off for a steel recycling program. Small amounts of dried residue will not hinder steel can recycling.

  3. Clean paint brushes and painting tools with paint thinner or turpentine.

Remember, Paint disposal is Usually Unnecessary:

Before you dispose of any paint product – apply a second coat, touch up areas which need improvement and attempt to donate “leftover” paint.

Reusing Paint Thinners, Turpentine, Mineral Spirits And Solvents:

Paint thinners, turpentine, mineral spirits and solvents can be reused. These products, like solvent-based or alkyd paints, should not be emptied into storm sewers, household drains (especially if you have a septic tank) or on the ground. You can reuse these types of products.

Reuse Steps

  1. Put used turpentine or brush cleaners in a closed container and leave it in a safe place until the paint particles settle to the bottom.

  2. Pour off the clear liquid into an empty, clean container which has a lid for reuse.

  3. Add an absorbent material such as a cat box filler, shredded newspaper or sawdust to the remaining residue

  4. Let this residue dry completely before disposing of it in your regular trash.

  5. In areas where recycling programs exist, save the dry, empty containers with the lids off for a steel can recycling program. Small amounts of dried residue will not hinder steel can recycling.

Recycling Paint And Aerosol Containers:

Since all paint and aerosol containers are composed of high-grade steel, they can be recycled in a steel can recycling program. Paint containers made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET resin SPI code 1) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE resin SPI code 2) plastic are also recyclable in many communities. Check with your local/state government to determine whether steel and other materials may be recycled in your community.

Recycling Steps

  1. To recycle paint containers, make sure they are empty and dry. A thin layer of dried paint on the bottom and sides of the can is usually acceptable.

  2. In order to recycle paint can lids, just remove them from the container.
    To recycle empty aerosols, do not puncture, crush or incinerate the can. You do not have to remove the nozzle of the spray cans for recycling, but do remove the aerosol caps, which are generally made of plastic.

A Review of the February 2008 Issue BackgrounderThe Paint Industry Works Toward a Nationally Coordinated System for Post-Consumer Paint Management

NPCA and the paint industry have taken on a new a new leadership role to address the issue of post-consumer paint management as part of the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative (PPSI). PPSI is a dialogue convened by the Product Stewardship Institute, an organization consisting of local and state regulators from across the country, with a mission to “assist state and local government agencies in establishing cooperative agreements with industry and developing other initiatives that reduce the health and environmental impacts from consumer products.”

Post-Consumer Paint Education:

In March 2005, NPCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PPSI, tasking NPCA with undertaking several projects aimed at post-consumer paint cost/volume reduction and education. As part of this endeavor, NPCA updated its Protocol for Management of Post-Consumer Paint, which covers education, waste management programs, cost considerations and additional information about post-consumer paint, including approaches. NPCA also underwrote the development of the Guidance Manual for Paint Reuse Programs. The guide provides details on how to establish or maximize a reuse program, and includes case studies and sample documents from successful reuse programs across the United States. For consumers, the PPSI created a new best management program, which NPCA developed into a print brochure, made available below. The brochure, which advocates a “5-point program” for paint management, follows the 3r’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — and focuses on five key steps: buying the correct amount of paint, storing it properly, using it up, supporting reuse and recycle programs, and proper disposal of leftover paint.

Download the full color brochures:

Minnesota Demonstration Project:

Another project that NPCA sponsored was a lifecycle/cost benefit analysis of various management options identified for post-consumer paint waste, from drying/solid waste disposal to reuse to recycling, to determine the net environmental and economic lifecycle benefit from these methods. The results of this research provided PPSI stakeholders with necessary information to form the basis for the next stage of the dialogue: a second PPSI Memorandum of Understanding signed by NPCA in October 2007, this time anticipating NPCA’s development of a Paint Stewardship Organization (PSO) and the launch of a state-wide “Demonstration Project” in Minnesota to work through critical issues and gather information necessary to develop a functional, fully funded, environmentally sound, and cost-effective nationally coordinated leftover paint management system.

Based on the results of the Minnesota Demonstration Project, a nationally-coordinated system is to be implemented in the rest of the United States according to a phased implementation schedule.

PSO Development and Funding:

While the initial up-front funding for this industry-run project will be borne by NPCA, sustainable financing must be based on a consumer cost recovery model similar to the “Product Care” program currently in place in British Columbia, Canada, as well as other provinces. The cost-recovery financing system is consumer-based, i.e., the cost of the program is to be passed on to the consumer through the purchase of architectural paint products and remitted back up the supply chain to the PSO to cover the costs of the program. Product Care manages this through an “eco-fee” paid to Product Care by its members to run the program, which is in turn passed through to the consumer through the retail purchase price of paint.

Partnering with Retailers and Government:

The importance of retailer participation in this program cannot be understated: Retailers’ involvement is critical to the long-term success of this project in order to reach the consumer/ purchaser of paint to educate consumers on the importance of paint waste minimization and to share the responsibility for its ultimate end-of-life management.

Another key component of the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding focuses on the industry-government partnership encouraging collection programs in the private and public sectors to participate with the development and implementation of the nationally-coordinated leftover paint management system. In some states, additional collection sites will be required to meet the needs of the community. The PSO will typically need to negotiate agreements with existing and additional collection sites to fairly compensate them for their efforts to participate in the nationally-coordinated system.

For more information on this issue, visit the Product Care web site,


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