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lots of empty paint cans.

There’s nothing better than a fresh lick of paint in your home, but it comes at a price – a never-ending pile of half-empty paint tins that increasingly stack up under your stairs, in your garage, or at the back of your shed. When disposing of empty paint cans you can’t just throw them out either.

Like other liquid wastes, you can’t pour paint away, or chuck it in your general waste bin – liquid paint is banned from landfill, and your local council won’t accept it. Luckily, when it comes to paint disposal, there’s a simple and straightforward way to get rid of it. You just need a bit of patience and ingenuity if you’re hoping to take it to your local recycling centre.

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Will the council take old liquid paint? 

If you’ve got barely any paint left in a tin, and you’ve left it to dry out, your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC) will almost definitely take your paint tins. Make sure you drop them a line first to make sure. If it’s dried out, they can remove this hazardous waste before processing the tins or plastic receptacles themselves.

However, when it comes to half-full tins, you can make them dry out yourself, with a bit of time and some odds and ends. Take the lid off your unused and unwanted paint and add one of three things – soil, sand, or sawdust. Soon, it’ll go solid, and it can be disposed of responsibly.

paint tin disposal.

Paint disposal

For smaller amounts of waste paint, you can probably get rid of it at home. Just pour the little bit of leftover paint onto a piece of paper or card and leave it to dry. Then, you can just throw it away in your household general waste bin.

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Can I give away my old paint? 

You’ll be surprised how unfussy a lot of people are about the colour of paint, if it’s free. If you know anyone who’s crafty, or is planning a home redecoration project, there’s no harm in asking whether they want it. You can also offer old paint online for free, just be honest about the colour and how much is left in the tin.

A lot of paints are in high demand too, especially white, or off-white gloss or matte, which everyone needs at some point for ceilings, skirting boards, and more. We’re all guilty of buying too much of it, so it’s always useful to pass it on, save someone a bit of cash, and do another little bit for the environment.

Can I recycle old paint? 

As one of the best options for paint disposal available, there are companies that exist solely to take and recycle paint so that it can be reused. Businesses like Seagulls in Leeds have made a name for themselves as a place to donate leftover paint, and these organisations repurpose and resell it.

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Will my old paint get picked up 
by a disposal company?

While it might be overkill to hire a man and van rubbish removal company for a couple of tins of old paint, many like Divert will happily take it off your hands and dispose of it responsibly. Besides, there’s every chance that paint tins are among a small mountain of useless waste you’re hoarding in your garage.

You can combine getting rid of other bulky items or bags of old tat with paint cans at the same time. Just let us know that they’re part of your waste and we’ll make sure we recycle everything we can. Call 0333 444 0118 or contact us online today for a free quote.

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tin of white paint with paint brush.

Disposal of paint tins – FAQs

  • Can you put empty paint tins in the bin?

    You can put empty paint tins in the bin but only as long as no paint remains in them. Paint isn’t accepted at landfill sites, which is where rubbish in many general waste bins from households in the UK ends up. It’s also a hazardous product, so could cause problems for any general waste that goes for incineration.

  • Can you put empty paint tins in recycling bin?

    If an empty paint tin is made of metal and has been completely cleaned out and dried, you should be able to put it in a recycling bin. For any plastic paint cans you should check the type of plastic it’s made from and whether it’s accepted in your domestic recycling bin. Again, this is only possible if all paint is removed from the tin.

  • Can empty paint cans be recycled?

    Recycling paint tins is possible if they’re made of metal and completely empty. Most metal paint cans are made from steel, which is highly recyclable. Check with your local HWRC but most should accept it in their metal recycling containers – or have a dedicated paint tin recycling point.

    Empty plastic paint cans aren’t as easy to recycle. It depends on the type of plastic they’re made of and whether they’re accepted at your local HWRC.

  • Can you take paint tins to the tip?

    You can take old paint tins to the tip or your nearest HWRC for recycling and responsible disposal. However, these must be empty or any paint that remains needs to have hardened – as they won’t accept liquid waste. Taking old pain tins to the tip improves the chance of them being recycled, compared to throwing them away at home.

  • Can you take old paint to the tip?

    You can only take old paint to the tip if it’s hardened, as most don’t accept liquid waste. If you’ve got leftover paint that you need to get rid of it’s better for the environment to pass it on to someone else who can use it. Paint is a hazardous waste material due to containing heavy metals, so its disposal isn’t great for the environment. Instead, find ways to use it.

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