How to Properly Dispose of Used Paint Cans

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Every home has its fair share of paint cans calling for attention in garages or attics. But improper disposal of paints and paint cans can prove to be fatal for children and pets.

Here’s how to dispose of used paint cans in the safest, and most environmentally-friendly way.


Calculate Your Needs

The first step to eco-friendly disposal of paint cans is to calculate your needs at the get-go. Instead of having a truck load of paint cans brought home, you can take the time to calculate exactly how much paint you need of each color for the rooms in the house.

This allows you to control wastage of paint and reduces the number of paint cans to be taken care of.

To store left-over paint, cover the can’s mouth with a plastic wrap to secure the lid and turn the can upside-down. Store the cans in a place where the paint does not experience too much heat or cold, and keep them out of reach of children and pets.

If most cans are only half-empty or with little paint, you can accumulate the paint in one can so to ease the process of storage. The other cans can then be worked on to be prepared for disposal.


Disposing of Leftover Paint

If there is very little or no paint left in a can, add substances like cat litter to allow the paint to solidify. The solid mass can then be easily transferred to a heavy duty trash bags.

You can also choose to use paint solidifiers sold over the counter, and dispose of the paint in a similar manner.

Reusing is an option, too, if you are using latex paints. Latex paints are often blended together to be used, even though the resulting hues may not be your first choice. Such blended paints can be reused for base coats and functional paint jobs.

Also, check if your community has any initiatives that involve the collection of paint to be used in community projects. This is a great way of reducing wastage of paint and the empty cans can then be recycled.


Watch Out for Oil Paints

Oil paints are classified as hazardous substances and must be disposed of accordingly. Your local household hazardous waste facility should be contacted for further information.

Such waste disposal services differ from region to region – while some areas have waste management systems all year round, others must avail themselves of annual or semi-annual drop-off periods.

Latex paints, on the other hand, are not considered hazardous and their disposal is more relaxed.


Recycling Used Paint Cans

The most important part of disposing leftover paints is to have the paint cans recycled.

Recycling steel and tin products helps reduce carbon footprint of the industries significantly. It has been observed that about 74% of the manufacturing energy was saved when steel and tin cans are recycled.

There is also a whopping 70% reduction in mining and manufacturing waste creation, keeping air and water pollution at marginal rates. Given that Americans alone use 100 million steel cans every day, it is a rewarding practice to have paint cans and the like recycled.

Aluminum cans are a part of every household, coming as they do in the form of containers of drinks, canned food and even paints. So wide-spread is the use of aluminum in the country that recycling aluminum is the backbone of the recycling efforts undertaken by municipalities of various cities across the country.


Paint Can Take-Back Programs

There is another practice that is emerging to help promote recycling of paint cans.

So far, three states in the USA have passed rules that require the manufacturers of paints to set up counters where consumers can drop off use paint cans for them to be recycled and reused. Oregon, California and Connecticut have passed such laws that require the setting up of take-back drives.

Other states are also being encouraged to follow suit, as it does not cost the providing companies much to enforce such a program.

In these states, the price of paint cans have been marginally increased so that the consumers collectively fund take-back programs, contributing to the recycling effort and taking another step towards a greener life.


Do you have additional tips for recycling old paint cans? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Jason Phillips

    The post is written by Jason Phillips. He is a student of economics. He has a great interest in politics and wishes to enter into it to use it for betterment of the environment. He writes on various eco friendly issues and one of his recent articles is named as simple human garbage cans.

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