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Paint Waste Disposal Tips

Close up of multicolored paint cans.

A Guide to Paint and Paint Supply Disposal

Wherever you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably within eyesight of paint. That’s because paint is one of the most versatile materials around. It can be used to color a home wall, transform the siding on a building or cover the patches in drywall from a plumbing project.

What most people don’t consider, though, is how to get rid of old paint when it's no longer needed. What do you do with all the supplies? The paint brushes, rollers, cans, tarps and everything else? Whether you’re a contractor looking for bulk paint disposal or a homeowner with a few extra paint buckets, we’ll give you the best disposal and recycling options available.


5 Ways to Dispose of Old Paint

Close up of multicolored paint cans.

1. Sell Your Extra Cans

Paint resale is a vibrant market. There are countless people out there looking to refresh their homes with a nice coat of paint. However, most people only want to buy unused paint cans, and often are not willing to pay the prices you could get at Home Depot or Lowe’s – they’re looking for a deal.

Remember, if someone is interested in paint, they may also need supplies. Don’t hesitate to see if they would like to purchase your unused and gently used paintbrushes, drop cloths, rollers and other paint accessories.

Man examining different new paint cans in store aisle.

Selling extra paint as a contractor can be a bit harder. You’re more than likely dealing with open cans that are nearly empty or a large number of unopened cans that you got in bulk. If you’re looking to sell, focus on local painting companies. If there aren’t competitors, they’re likely not opposed to buying paint in bulk.

3. Reuse Your Leftovers

People tend to let paint sit around until they need it again. After all, chances are you’ll need to replace some drywall for a DIY improvement project or because someone slipped on the steps and put their knee through the wall. Having matching paint ready is quite handy. The best part? Paint doesn’t expire quickly.

Opened cans that are properly sealed for storage tend to last five years, while unopened cans can be good for around 10 years.

Man rolling paint onto wall.

With a long shelf life, don’t hesitate to hold onto your unopened cans from a project and reuse them somewhere else. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of cans that are mostly used, you can always ask the client if they would like to keep them.

Another option is to combine the paint dredges. This usually creates a darker neutral color that can be used in many places. Just be sure you’re mixing the same type of paint – do not mix oil-based and latex! Not only will it make the paint less effective when used, but it also makes the latex paint a hazardous item. That means it’s harder to dispose of.

Cans of used paint stacked inside of recycling bin.

4. Find a Recycler

Most paint supplies are recyclable since they are primarily made of metal, plastic or wood. Check with your local trash company to see if there are any specific restrictions on how clean the supplies must be.

As for paint, there are a few options to consider for nationwide recycling programs:

  • Paint manufacturers
  • Local government recycling programs
  • Hardware and home improvement stores

Try using PaintCare to easily locate a nearby drop-off location. If you’re a contractor with lots of paint to recycle, you can schedule a pickup.

5. Rent a Dumpster

When you have a lot of paint and supplies to toss, renting a dumpster is often your best option. The container is delivered right to your home or jobsite, and loading only requires you to walk to the bin. No driving to recycling facilities or calling around to see if donation spots are accepting materials. The biggest consideration is to ensure the paint is dried, as wet paint is not allowed in dumpsters.

Working on a project that may take a long time or require extra dumpsters? We’ve got you covered. Our contractor account teams are ready to help with your ongoing roll off dumpster rental needs.

Remember, paint chips that contain lead may not be accepted in dumpsters. Check with your rental company to ensure they’ll take it and avoid being charged a prohibited item fee.

Roll-off dumpster being unloaded from truck.
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Can I Throw My Paint and Supplies in a Dumpster?

This is a common question we get. And, unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a “yes” or “no.” Factors such as the type of paint, the chemicals used to strip the paint and even how much you’re tossing can impact the answer. We’ve put together some guidelines to help you decide if your materials are safe for disposal. If you have any questions about your specific waste, our team is available at 877-814-9781.

Painting Supplies
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Pro Tip

Whether you’re a contractor or a homeowner, it never hurts to reach out to us at 877-814-9781. You may find that we can take your difficult-to-toss materials to a proper facility for disposal.

Paint Disposal FAQs

Can I throw away empty paint cans?

How long does it take for a can of paint to dry out?

Can you recycle paint?

Is paint considered hazardous waste?

Can you put paint cans in a dumpster?

Additional Disposal and Recycling Resources

Looking for other tips on handling construction debris? Check out the advice in our blog posts, resources and disposal guides.