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Dear Recycling Bins: Paint Recycling

Dear Recycling Bins: Paint Recycling

Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column

Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.

Dear Recycling Bins,

I’m a serial DIY project enthusiast, and while my wife loves my creations around the house and in the garden, she hates that the shed (and now the garage) is full of half-empty tins of paint!

I know I can’t put it in the bin or pour it down the drain or sink, so my question to you is what on earth can I do with it, before my wife files for divorce?!

Yours sincerely,

A Serial DIY-er.

Paint Recycling

Dear Serial DIY-er,

We are fond of a DIY/upcycling project here at Recycling Bins, so we understand your plight! You’re right in saying that you can’t put paint in with your general waste, and it definitely can’t be poured down the drain, so what can you do with it?

Well first, and we’re sure you’ve checked, make sure that none of the paint is usable. You might only have half a tin of some colours, but it could be enough to give somewhere in your home or garden a little touch-up.

Around 50 million litres out of the 320 million litres of paint sold in the UK each year goes to waste which is scandalous. This paint is either dumped or stored in homes, sheds, or garages even though about half of it is still usable!

Of course, if the paint has been sitting in your shed or garage forever and a day, the chances are that it won’t be fit for use. Paint, like many other products has a certain shelf life. It’s formulated using pigments, dyes, emulsifiers, and water, and after a certain length of time, these ingredients will start to separate. If you open the can and the paint has partly solidified, but the liquids have separated, it’s no good and it will have to be disposed of.

If it definitely needs to be disposed of:

  • You can dispose of it at a council household waste recycling centre, but it MUST be hardened before the council will accept it, as liquid wastes aren’t accepted at landfill sites. Buy paint hardener or for the DIY way, use sawdust, sand, or soil to harden it. NOTE: solvent-based paint, paint thinner, and white spirit are all considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of as such. Click here to find your nearest hazardous waste disposal centre (England and Wales).
  • You can donate it to a Community RePaint scheme. Community RePaint is a paint reuse network that runs across the UK. The scheme is sponsored by Dulux, and the aim is to collect leftover paint and give it to families, community groups, and charities at a much cheaper cost than buying new paint. There are over 65 schemes in the UK which have redistributed a whopping 317,600 litres of paint which has helped charities and community groups breathe new life into shared spaces, create beautiful murals in communities, and helped people on low incomes redecorate their homes for less.
  • NEVER put paint down the drain. Remember that everything that goes down the drain ends up in our rivers and oceans, and if you put paint into the mix, with its toxic ingredients, you’re pretty much poisoning marine life and the plants that are needed for a healthy ecosystem. Some paints contain plastic compounds, and older paint products can contain heavy metals like lead. And it’s not only our waters that suffer. Paint contains what are known as VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These react with oxygen and can contribute to global warming, not to mention they can cause eye problems and skin irritation for anyone who comes into contact with them. Paint should never be dumped.

There are already tonnes of plastics choking our rivers and oceans, and sitting on landfill sites, so be responsible and don’t add to the problem. It’s everyone’s job to protect our planet, so dispose of your paint in the right way.

Of course, you can avoid cluttering up your garage and shed (and the threat of divorce proceedings!) in the future by calculating exactly how much paint you will need for any given job. There are some pretty accurate ones online including this one for walls (including windows, sockets, and skirting boards). This will help you avoid having lots of excess paint leftover in the future.

We hope this helps!

Recycling Bins.

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