colourful paint cans

Here’s how you should responsibly dispose of paint

13th Jul, 2018

You can get rid of an awful lot of household waste by hiring a skip. Sadly though, leftover paint and paint cans aren’t amongst them. Liquid paint is banned from landfill and skips, and they can’t be accepted by the council either. And annoyingly, simply pouring paint down the drain isn’t an option either, as it wreaks absolute havoc with the environment. That’s not even to mention the issue it can create if it causes a blockage in the pipes. So, when you’ve touched up that paintwork but you’ve still got some leftover, what can you do to get rid of it? Well, you’ll be happy to hear you’ve got a fair few options!

If your paint can is unopened

You’ve probably guessed this one already, but for unopened tins of paint you can simply return them to the place from which you bought them, either for a refund or an exchange. Obviously, this only applies if the paint isn’t opened, and you’ve still got the receipt. Otherwise, you might want to think about a few of the other options we’re going to talk about in just a moment.

For smaller amounts of paint

If you’ve only got a small amount of paint left over, you can afford to get a little creative. Remember, it’s specifically liquid paint that’s banned from skips. This means that what you can do is paint a piece of cardboard other paper, and then leave it to dry. Once the paint is completely dry, you can then dispose of this cardboard or paper along with all the other household waste, and that’s job done!

paint cans

For larger amounts of paint

You’ll note that we’re not being specific with these amounts here – we’ll trust you to make the judgement call as to what qualifies as ‘large’ and ‘small’ amounts of paint! Your first port of call is probably going to be your friends and family. It’s doesn’t exactly need a complex cost-benefit analysis: you get rid of your paint cans, and they get free paint.

On the other hand, if you can’t find anyone you know personally to take them off your hands, you can always try websites like Freecycle or Freegle, where you might be able to find someone happy to take them off your hands. Depending on exactly where you live in the UK, you could also find it worthwhile to contact a group like Community RePaint, which sources leftover paint for community projects like repainting public buildings or murals for playgrounds. That way, you avoid waste, and as an extra bonus it all goes to a worthy cause!

If it’s unusable

The unfortunate truth with paint is that it’s only usable for a few years or so after it’s first been opened. Once that time has passed, you won’t even be able to give it away. Thankfully, you’re not out of options yet! The solution here involves simply leaving it to dry, and then you can take it to your nearest household waste recycling centre. Personally, we find the fastest way to dry out paint is to leave it in a locked, well-ventilated garage, preferably overnight.

dried paint cans

If you find that it’s not drying fast enough, you can always add some sawdust, soil or sand to the mixture, and leave it solidify. We’d recommend leaving it for at least a few hours, and going off to do something else for a bit before coming back to check. There’s not much point in hanging around to watch it happen, because it’s about as interesting as… well, it’s not interesting at all.

Once it’s dry, it’s just a matter of taking a quick trip down to your household waste recycling centre, and they’ll gladly dispose of it. Quick other point to note – only metal paint cans are widely accepted for recycling at most household waste recycling centres. Certain centres might be a lot less keen on taking plastic paint cans for recycling – if that’s the case with yours, they’ll generally be able to advise you of a better place to take it.

Of course, for anything else, you can always rely on us right here at Skip Hire Network. In a pinch, you can also put solidified paint in one of our skips – just make sure that it’s definitely all dried first! You can check out our range of skip sizes here, or if you’re all ready to go, you can simply enter in your postcode and phone number into our homepage to get your instant online quote.