How to Dispose of Paint - A Sticky Situation

Pennsylvania regulations ban all liquid paint from being disposed of in landfills.

Paint that has been dried out or hardened is permissible. If you have any unused paint that needs to be disposed of, don’t panic, here are some options:

  1. Use the paint to freshen up your walls or furniture, or maybe a neighbor needs a little paint. Another option is to mix a few small quantities of paint to get a new color altogether. Just remember, don’t mix latex paint and oil based paints.

  2. Dry up the old paint with kitty litter, sawdust or other absorbent material. If the volume is relatively small, this can be accomplished right in the can. If not, pour the paint out into a disposable paint tray liner or other suitable container and mix in your absorbent. Once dry, you can dispose of your paint at the landfill.
  3. Dry the paint by air-drying it in a large shallow tray. Use a piece of plywood and nail wood trim around the edges to form a shallow tray. Pour the paint into the tray, (increasing the surface area and speeding up the drying time). You can use the tray over and over again for years.

Wrong Ways to Dispose of Paint

  1. DO NOT place leftover paint in a garbage bag and put it in the regular trash. SECCRA’s 86,000 pound compactor crushes those cans with explosive force. Paint can be sprayed liberally on equipment, operators and even customers.
  2. DO NOT put your paint in our used oil recycling container.  Paint contaminates used motor oil and makes it unrecyclable.  Once contaminated, SECCRA must have the contents of the recycle container cleaned by a hazardous materials contractor. The process is expensive and wastes the used oil, which cannot be reclaimed.
  3. DO NOT burn your old paint in a burn barrel. Low temperature combustion (like open fire) of the solvents in paint can release toxins which are not healthy to breathe.
  4. DO NOT just let your old paint build up in the basement or garage. Many paints are flammable and the solvents can make nasty smoke in a fire.