Paint Disposal: a Primer

It’s something found in nearly every garage, maintenance shop, and hardware section across the country. Paint protects surfaces while adding color to the world around us. It allows businesses and artists alike to express themselves. It’s undoubtedly an important part of modern life, as it has been throughout much of history.

A problem anyone who has ever used paint knows well is, what to do with the rest of it once the project is done? You only need the amount of paint that it takes to cover the surface you want, but it’s impossible to calculate and buy that exact amount. Everyone winds up with excess paint, whether it’s several ounces or a few gallons. If you’re using multiple colors, the leftovers can really add up.

Most of the time, this leftover paint sits on a shelf while the painter hopes to use it again someday. Months or years may pass before, eventually, the day comes when it’s decided that the paint has to go. When it’s finally time to dispose of leftover paint, the type of paint will play a major role in how it’s handled and disposed of.

There are generally three types of paint that most homeowners and businesses will need to dispose of: water based paint, oil based paint, and spray paint.

Water based paint consists of solid materials suspended in a solution of water, and includes latex and acrylic paint. As the water dries, the solids remain and bind to each other, forming the final paint coating. Since the paint consists primarily of water, any leftover paint is considered non-hazardous. Liquid latex paint still can’t go into a dumpster or down the drain, but most municipalities allow it to be disposed of in the trash once the paint has completely dried. You can speed up the drying process by adding kitty litter or other material that will solidify it.

Oil based paint includes enamel and stains, and utilize hydrocarbon solvents rather than water. These paints pose a flammability hazard and nearly all of them will have a flash-point below 140 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a hazardous waste.

Spray paint cans contain solvents with a much lower flash-point, increasing the risk of fires. The compressed gasses in spray paint cans add another level of hazard to the product. Aerosol cans that are improperly handled can catch fire or explode.

Homeowners can usually bring hazardous chemicals to their local designated waste collection station. Businesses, however, have to find a vendor who can help them manage their paint wastes.

At Protect Environmental, our teams have extensive experience helping our clients identify, consolidate, and dispose of paint wastes in a responsible and legal manner. We collect paint wastes from project sites, warehouses, abandoned properties, and anywhere else it can be found. If your company has decided to clear the clutter and dispose of old paint wastes, don’t hesitate to call our offices to find out how Protect can assist you.

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