How to Dispose of Paint in the UK

How to Dispose of Paint in the UK

You've finished your project and now you've got cans of leftover paint. Liquid paint is considered hazardous waste and is dangerous for the environment as well as the health of people and animals. Ideally, find another project to use up the paint or give it to someone else who can use it. If those options aren't available to you, arrange for collection of the paint as hazardous waste unless you only have a small amount left over that you can dry out.[1] X Research source

Method 1 of 2:
Using up Excess Paint

1
Save light shades to use as primers for other paint projects. Paints in shades of white or light pastel colors will work as a primer if you've got another paint project using a darker color. Label the paint with the date you opened the can so you'll know how long you've had it if you're planning on saving it for more than a few months. [2] X Research source Decorative paints don't often have expiration dates on them, but they will go bad after a while. The parts of the paint start to separate as soon as you open the can and expose the paint to air. Generally, if the paint can is bulging or the lid is puffed up, you know the paint is bad. You can also open it and see if it's started to separate.[3] X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
2
Repaint a bathroom or cupboard if you have around 2.5 liters. A smaller project that takes less paint will help use up what you have leftover and can also help brighten a space. You could also use this amount to give new life to an old piece of furniture or add some color to a small accent wall. [4] X Research source If you have 2.5 liters or less of a lighter color, it might be perfect for trim or baseboards. You could use brighter colors for the inside of a closet or cupboard. You might also put an extra coat of paint on an area you just painted that could use a little more protection.[5] X Research source
3
Brighten up some frames or bookshelves if you have 1 liter. A liter or so of leftover paint is perfect to paint a few matching picture frames or add interest to a bookshelf or other piece of furniture with contrasting shades. [6] X Research source For example, if the leftover paint you have is a bold color, you might paint the inside back of the bookshelves so the back stands out behind the books. You might also paint a single window frame to add a pop of color to a room.
4
Add some color to accessories if you have half a liter or less. If you only have a little paint left, it's not enough for a larger project, but you can still use it up by repainting small items and accessories around the home or office. You could also use it to freshen up an older object, such as a bowl or crate, that's starting to show its age. [7] X Research source If you're creative, you can imagine new decorative uses for thrift store finds. For example, you might paint an old birdcage and use it to hold a hanging plant. Smaller picture frames are also an option to paint if you only have a little paint leftover. For example, you might paint a small frame and candlesticks to match and turn the whole thing into a conversation piece for a shelf or coffee table.
5
Donate your leftover paint to a community repaint scheme. Community repaint schemes redistribute leftover decorative paint for murals and other projects that help brighten communities and public spaces. If you can't find a way to use your leftover paint yourself, donating is a good way to get rid of it safely that also benefits the community. [8] X Research source To find a scheme near you, go to https://communityrepaint.org.uk/ and click "I have leftover paint" to get started. You might also donate your leftover paint to a local school or church. Theater groups also often take paint donations for use in painting sets.[9] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 2 of 2:
Discarding Paint Properly

1
Find out if your local recycling center takes paint. Only about a third of the Household Waste Recycling Centers (HWRCs) across the UK accept liquid paint. However, if one of those HWRCs happens to be close by, you can easily dispose of your leftover paint this way. [10] X Research source Enter your postcode, town, or city at https://www.paintcare.org.uk/recycle-the-rest/ to find the nearest HWRC that accepts liquid paint.
2
Add something absorbent to the paint to dry it out. Sand, sawdust, soil, or even cat litter will soak up the moisture in the paint and dry it out so that it's safe to throw away in your regular trash. This is typically the best way to dispose of a small amount of leftover paint. If you have more than half a can left, it will be difficult to dry it out completely. [11] X Research source Leave the container with the lid off in a well-ventilated area away from animals or children. If the paint hasn't dried after a day or two, add more material to help soak up the moisture. Pierce the dried paint with a knife to make sure it's fully dried before you throw it out.[12] X Research source
3
Put the container in your normal rubbish bin after it's dried out. It may take several weeks for the paint to dry out completely, depending on how much you have left. Once the paint is completely dry, it's safe to throw out with your normal trash. [13] X Research source Contact your council or check the website to find out whether you should put the lid back on the can or leave it off. Some councils prefer that you put the lid back on. However, others require you to leave it off so collection crews can see that the can is empty or the paint is completely dry.[14] X Research source
4
Contact your local district, borough, or city council. Most councils offer a hazardous waste collection service. If you let them know what you have, they'll come out and get it for you. However, keep in mind some councils may charge for this service. [15] X Research source For example, the East Suffolk Council will collect, treat, and dispose of your leftover paint, but charges a minimum of £45.60 for this service.[16] X Research source
5
Hire a specialist to remove it for you. If you have a large amount of paint that you need to get rid of, you might want to hire a private contractor to remove it for you. Private contractors are available anywhere, so this is also a good option if your local council doesn't have a hazardous waste collection service. [17] X Research source Search online for private contractors who remove hazardous waste. Your council might also be able to provide you the names of some contractors. Private contractors can be expensive. If possible, get quotes from 2 or 3 different contractors so you can make sure you're getting the best deal.
Advertisement

Method 1 of 2:
Using up Excess Paint

1
Save light shades to use as primers for other paint projects. Paints in shades of white or light pastel colors will work as a primer if you've got another paint project using a darker color. Label the paint with the date you opened the can so you'll know how long you've had it if you're planning on saving it for more than a few months. [2] X Research source Decorative paints don't often have expiration dates on them, but they will go bad after a while. The parts of the paint start to separate as soon as you open the can and expose the paint to air. Generally, if the paint can is bulging or the lid is puffed up, you know the paint is bad. You can also open it and see if it's started to separate.[3] X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source
2
Repaint a bathroom or cupboard if you have around 2.5 liters. A smaller project that takes less paint will help use up what you have leftover and can also help brighten a space. You could also use this amount to give new life to an old piece of furniture or add some color to a small accent wall. [4] X Research source If you have 2.5 liters or less of a lighter color, it might be perfect for trim or baseboards. You could use brighter colors for the inside of a closet or cupboard. You might also put an extra coat of paint on an area you just painted that could use a little more protection.[5] X Research source
3
Brighten up some frames or bookshelves if you have 1 liter. A liter or so of leftover paint is perfect to paint a few matching picture frames or add interest to a bookshelf or other piece of furniture with contrasting shades. [6] X Research source For example, if the leftover paint you have is a bold color, you might paint the inside back of the bookshelves so the back stands out behind the books. You might also paint a single window frame to add a pop of color to a room.
4
Add some color to accessories if you have half a liter or less. If you only have a little paint left, it's not enough for a larger project, but you can still use it up by repainting small items and accessories around the home or office. You could also use it to freshen up an older object, such as a bowl or crate, that's starting to show its age. [7] X Research source If you're creative, you can imagine new decorative uses for thrift store finds. For example, you might paint an old birdcage and use it to hold a hanging plant. Smaller picture frames are also an option to paint if you only have a little paint leftover. For example, you might paint a small frame and candlesticks to match and turn the whole thing into a conversation piece for a shelf or coffee table.
5
Donate your leftover paint to a community repaint scheme. Community repaint schemes redistribute leftover decorative paint for murals and other projects that help brighten communities and public spaces. If you can't find a way to use your leftover paint yourself, donating is a good way to get rid of it safely that also benefits the community. [8] X Research source To find a scheme near you, go to https://communityrepaint.org.uk/ and click "I have leftover paint" to get started. You might also donate your leftover paint to a local school or church. Theater groups also often take paint donations for use in painting sets.[9] X Research source
Advertisement

Method 2 of 2:
Discarding Paint Properly

1
Find out if your local recycling center takes paint. Only about a third of the Household Waste Recycling Centers (HWRCs) across the UK accept liquid paint. However, if one of those HWRCs happens to be close by, you can easily dispose of your leftover paint this way. [10] X Research source Enter your postcode, town, or city at https://www.paintcare.org.uk/recycle-the-rest/ to find the nearest HWRC that accepts liquid paint.
2
Add something absorbent to the paint to dry it out. Sand, sawdust, soil, or even cat litter will soak up the moisture in the paint and dry it out so that it's safe to throw away in your regular trash. This is typically the best way to dispose of a small amount of leftover paint. If you have more than half a can left, it will be difficult to dry it out completely. [11] X Research source Leave the container with the lid off in a well-ventilated area away from animals or children. If the paint hasn't dried after a day or two, add more material to help soak up the moisture. Pierce the dried paint with a knife to make sure it's fully dried before you throw it out.[12] X Research source
3
Put the container in your normal rubbish bin after it's dried out. It may take several weeks for the paint to dry out completely, depending on how much you have left. Once the paint is completely dry, it's safe to throw out with your normal trash. [13] X Research source Contact your council or check the website to find out whether you should put the lid back on the can or leave it off. Some councils prefer that you put the lid back on. However, others require you to leave it off so collection crews can see that the can is empty or the paint is completely dry.[14] X Research source
4
Contact your local district, borough, or city council. Most councils offer a hazardous waste collection service. If you let them know what you have, they'll come out and get it for you. However, keep in mind some councils may charge for this service. [15] X Research source For example, the East Suffolk Council will collect, treat, and dispose of your leftover paint, but charges a minimum of £45.60 for this service.[16] X Research source
5
Hire a specialist to remove it for you. If you have a large amount of paint that you need to get rid of, you might want to hire a private contractor to remove it for you. Private contractors are available anywhere, so this is also a good option if your local council doesn't have a hazardous waste collection service. [17] X Research source Search online for private contractors who remove hazardous waste. Your council might also be able to provide you the names of some contractors. Private contractors can be expensive. If possible, get quotes from 2 or 3 different contractors so you can make sure you're getting the best deal.
Advertisement