My Goals

To share eco tips &
To discuss changes we can make.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Paint and Hazardous Materials Disposal

We probably all have some old paint cans sitting around, I know I have many. If you're like me, then you probably like to hold onto them for crafts. In that case, here are some steps to preserve your paint:
  • Store the tightly sealed paint can upside-down, so that the paint will form a seal around the lid.
  • Store paint cans in dry areas that will not freeze.
  • Store paint cans away from sources of spark or flame.
Now, maybe it's been sitting around awhile and you're not sure if it's usable, here's how you can tell:

  • If the paint will mix when stirred, it is probably usable. Oil-based paint can be usable for up to fifteen years. Latex paint is usable if it is less than ten years old and has not been repeatedly frozen and thawed.
  • The best way to determine if latex paint is usable after it has been frozen is to brush the paint on newspaper. If there are lumps, the paint is not usable.
Maybe you don't want to store the leftover paint, some ways to avoid this are:

  • Buy only the amount you need to do the job. Consult with the retailer to determine the surface area and the amount of paint needed to cover this area.

  • Use up any leftover paint. Some suggested ways to do this include applying another coat to the surface until the paint is gone, painting a doghouse or other small structure, or using it as a primer coat for another project.

  • If you cannot use it up, see if a friend or neighbor is willing to use it. Other groups to contact to see if they need usable latex paint include theater groups, community betterment groups, schools, daycare centers and graffiti removal projects. Before sharing usable latex paint, determine if it contains mercury. If it does, inform your recipient and suggest they use it only for exterior surfaces.

  • Your community may sponsor a paint exchange for usable paint. If not, organize a paint exchange between members of local clubs, service organizations or other groups. Inform participants of the paint exchange that latex paint containing mercury should be used only on exterior surfaces. As a general rule, for paint to be usable by someone else, at least 1/3 of a gallon should remain in the original can with a legible label.

Here is the EPAs list of Reduce/Reuse/Recycling programs that may be useful in finding the proper home for unused paint.

Finally, if you don't want it, can't find a way to use it or a person to take it off your hands, remember:

Never put liquid paint into the trash or pour it down the drain ... Paint disposed of this way can contaminate our water resources and the environment.

Instead, take the paint to your community's household hazardous waste collection. Here is a list of regional waste programs. This is the best option for all unusable paint. If your community does not have a household hazardous waste collection, ask your local city, county and state officials to provide one.

MU's site for the info.

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