“I Have Leftover Paint. How Can I Dispose Of It?”

By: Lynne Hart

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 believe it is 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, which we are hoping to have in the spring of 2020.

  • 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)

KALB recently learned that the Limestone County Commission voted to provide funding to support a household hazardous waste collection, and we are very grateful for that decision. We are waiting on Athens City Council to vote on funding a portion of the collection as well. If the city approves the funding, there will be a household hazardous waste collection in the spring of 2020.

Latex Paint

The good news is that 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 a Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they will accept it for resale. We no longer have one in Athens; however, there are ReStores in Decatur (256-308-1160) and Huntsville (256-533-2282).
  • 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 your 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, and visit our website.

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. Our newsletters contain lots of useful information like this as well as information on upcoming events.

Together, with just a bit of effort, we can make our community a cleaner and healthier place to live, work, and play.
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful