Clean & Green – Proper Disposal Of Paint

KALB and our recycling center receive numerous phone calls every month asking how to dispose of leftover paint. Although we have addressed this on our Facebook page, on our website, and here in Athens Now, we feel it’s important that we address it again.

How you dispose of leftover paint depends on the type of paint you have. Some paint is considered household hazardous waste (HHW) and some is not.

If any of the following is true of your paint, then it cannot be placed in your trash under any conditions. It must be disposed of at a proper household hazardous waste collection.

  • The paint is oil based.
  • The paint is listed as mildew resistant or a preservative.
  • The paint is more than 20 years old (it may contain lead).

Athens and Limestone County residents have not had access to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection since 2008. Other items considered as HHW include automobile fluids, pesticides, garden chemicals, some household cleaners, and more. KALB and our recycling center have attempted several times to find funding so that we can hold another collection, but have been unsuccessful.

Although this is discouraging, it is illegal and dangerous to dispose of any household hazardous waste in any other manner. Also to be considered is the presence of many of these hazardous items could be dangerous in the event of a fire. If this is of concern to you, please address this with your city councilman and/or your county commissioner who may help find a solution to this problem.

Latex Paint

Latex paint, or water-based paint, is NOT considered a household hazardous waste; however, it CANNOT be placed in your trash in liquid form. Much damage can occur to roadways and trash collection trucks from liquid paints.

Never pour paint down a drain. It can be harmful to your pipes and is not good for the water supply. It is also harmful to pour paint onto the ground.

Here are safe ways to get rid of leftover latex paint:

  • Use it up or donate it: Mix light colors together and use as primer on your next paint job, or offer it to someone else with a painting project.
  • If you have full or nearly full cans: Check with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they will accept it for resale.
  • Dry it up: Once latex paint is completely dry, it is no longer a danger to trash trucks or roadways. Cans that are ¼ full or less can be placed in a safe location away from children and pets with lids off and allowed to dry. Once the paint is completely dry, you can place the can in with recycling or in your trash container. Larger amounts: Line a cardboard box with a trash bag and place it in a safe location away from children and pets. Pour paint into the box and add a drying agent such as kitty litter, sand, or shredded paper. You can also purchase paint hardener from Lowe’s or other DIY or hardware store that will work quickly and easily. Once the paint is completely dry, you may place the garbage bag of paint into you regular trash.

The number of phone calls we receive tells us that this information needs to be shared. Please help us do that by passing along this article to others who might be interested. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, visit our website, and let us know if you’d like to receive our monthly eNewsletter. We never share email address and won’t spam you. Encourage others to do the same.

Let’s make our community better together.
By: Lynne Hart