Do you have old cans of painting laying around your house taking up space? As you are probably aware, paint cannot just be thrown away with your regular garbage to be hauled off to the landfill. Because paint it liquid it can seep into the surrounding soil and cause contamination, so landfills will not accept wet paint in cans. Instead, there are some alternative methods you should follow to properly dispose of paint and keep the environment in better shape.
Latex paint is easier to dispose of than oil based paint, so let’s get started with that. First, landfills will accept latex paint as long as it is completely dry. That means that before you throw away your paint you need to allow it to dry all the way through. If you just have a small amount of paint left in the bottom of your can the easiest way to do this is to just leave the lid off the paint can until the paint in the bottom is dry. Once it has dried you can put the paint can out with the rest of your trash.
If you have a large amount of latex paint left in the can it would take far too long to dry, so you should use an alternative method of drying it quickly. The easiest and most efficient way to deal with larger amounts of latex paint is to mix them with dry kitty litter which will help to dry the paint quickly. You can then just throw away the kitty litter/paint mixture once it is dry. If you don’t want to purchase kitty litter you can take a large, flat cardboard box, line it with plastic and pour the paint into it. Then just sit back and wait for the paint to dry. Using a box spreads the paint out thinner so it will dry much more quickly than if you just left it in the can. After the paint in the box is dry you can just throw it out with your regular garbage.
When it comes to oil based paint things get a little trickier. Oil based paint cannot be taken to a landfill, but instead must be dropped off at a collection location for hazardous waste. You can find out about where to drop the paint either from your city government or often times from your local landfill.
Before you throw your paint away you should also look into whether or not there are any groups in your area that you could donate it to. No matter how much paint you have leftover odds are these groups have a project that it could be used for. Many groups such as Habitat for Humanity accept paint donations to help with their construction projects. Donating your old paint has two major benefits – you will be helping people in need and helping to protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste added to our landfills.
Some cities also sponsor “paint swaps” where you can bring your old paint to a specified location and either drop it off for someone else to take home and use or exchange it for another paint that you can use elsewhere in your home. Again, rather than throwing out your old paint this is a great option since it allows it to be used and can oftentimes help people complete projects around their home.
Finally, empty spray paint cans can be thrown away with your garbage. If, however, there is any paint left in the can you must first empty it. If for some reason the can won’t spray or you can’t empty it you should take it to your local hazardous waste collection location to dispose of it safely.
Taking the time to dispose of your paint properly will ensure that you are not causing damage to the environment and that you are keeping your city a safe place to live.