How can you Dispose of Unused Paint for Free?

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PaintCare ColoradoMany of us have unused paint in our storage room or crawl space just waiting to never be used again. Instead of just leaving the paint to collect dust, the best option is to recycle it. In Colorado and eight other states across the U.S., there is a solution to help you recycle and properly dispose of unused paint through PaintCare. PaintCare is the paint recycling program that makes it easy for consumers and businesses to drop off their unused, unwanted paint for free recycling at 150 participating locations in Colorado. This post was provided by PaintCare. I felt a free recycling program to help get rid of hazardous materials benefits real estate investors and the environment. 

How does PaintCare work when disposing of unwanted paint?

The drop-off sites are mostly paint and hardware stores, accepting paint from the public. Paint drop-off sites will accept all paint brands, regardless of when or where they were purchased. Items that can be dropped off for recycling include most house paints, primers, stains, sealers, and clear top coatings (varnish and shellac). Drop-off sites are open year-round during each retail location’s regular business hours.

The PaintCare program transports the collected paint from the drop-off sites to processing facilities, where it is remixed into recycled-content paint, used as fuel, made into other products or, in the case of some unrecyclable paint, it will be dried out and properly disposed of.

Paint manufacturers created PaintCare, a non-profit stewardship organization, to run recycling programs in states as they pass paint stewardship laws. PaintCare was signed into law in Colorado by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014 and launched in July, 2015.

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Where is the PaintCare program available?

Colorado was the seventh state to sign the PaintCare program into law. There are eight other states or jurisdictions that also have paint recycling laws, including California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

While there is no charge to drop paint off for recycling, a nominal fee has been added to the price of paint sold in Colorado as of July 1, 2015 to fund all aspects of the program, including paint collection, transportation, recycling, public outreach, and program administration. The fee varies by the size of container: 35 cents for pints and quarts, 75 cents for one gallon cans, and $1.60 for 5 gallon buckets.

Why was the PaintCare program started?

One of the main objectives of the program is to relieve local governments of some of the costs of handling paint and paying for those costs through either taxes or waste management fees. PaintCare is also working with most household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities in the state that have been taking back paint for years. More than half of the materials handled by HHW facilities is paint. The program allows those facilities interested in working with PaintCare to have their paint transportation and recycling costs covered by the PaintCare fees.

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How do you get rid of paint in other states?

It varies a great deal by state. Some states have government-run household hazardous waste (HHW) programs and some have nothing. The programs are usually run by the county or city, and might have a facility or they may host recycling events. Often, the events are just once a year or on weekends. The events are only meant for a given town or city where they check drivers licenses of people dropping items off to make sure the person is a resident; it can be expensive to recycle paint so that is why it is restricted to residents. Usually these programs are restricted to households, but a few allow businesses to use them if they pay a fee. Otherwise, most businesses have to pay a recycling company or hazardous waste disposal company to take away their paint.

Events are usually held at a city facility, landfill, corporation yard or school parking lot and the organizers invite people to bring their unwanted household chemicals, which are typically more than 50% paint. We call them “one-day HHW events.” Some of these programs only take oil-based paint and household chemicals, but not water-based (latex) paint because in most states, latex paint is not regulated as hazardous waste and can legally be disposed of in the trash if it is completely dry. In all states besides California (where it is regulated as hazardous waste) government agencies typically advise people to dry out latex paint and put it in the trash.

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How does PaintCare differ from other state paint recycle programs ?

PaintCare makes recycling much more convenient because of all the retail locations that volunteer to take back paint for free. There are only a handful of retailers in a couple of non-PaintCare states (probably 10 altogether) that take back paint for a fee.

The PaintCare retail drop-off sites don’t have residency restrictions like government programs have and they don’t charge anything – anyone from the state can use any of the retail drop off locations and businesses can use the program too.

In addition, PaintCare has a free pickup service for businesses (or households, but it is used mostly by businesses) if they have 300 or more gallons.

For more information on the PaintCare program or to find a PaintCare drop-off site visit www.paintcare.org.

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One Response

  1. Mike McGee January 13, 2017

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