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How to Dispose of Paint

If you are looking to update the décor on a tired looking room then painting is probably your best option, particularly if you are on a budget and time is a little tight. Whether you are an avid DIY’er, a professional or a complete novice; even with COAT’s handy paint calculator helping you figure out how much paint you need, chances are you’ll have a bit of paint left over. 

We’d encourage you to start another project - but then we would, we’re the paint guys! But if you’re like us, really those tins are just going to sit in a cupboard for too long. But we can help you to dispose of any leftover paint in a safe manner.

Unwanted paint, if not disposed of correctly, can have extremely hazardous effects on the environment and also on people.


Did you know most leftover paint goes into landfill? Despite what the recycling centres will tell you.

Horrendous...We’ve got in the groove of recycling everything else. So now it’s paint’s turn. And there’s no excuses left with COAT’s 360’ recycling programme.

How do I dispose of old Paint?

We’ve all done it.  Painted a room and put the lid back on a half empty tin of paint and shoved it on the shelf in the garage. Go on admit it, your shed or garage has tins half full of paint in various colours and of various ages; most of which are no longer fit for use. Why? Because we don’t know what to do with it, that’s why. Paint disposal isn’t readily accessible. Because of the hazards that paint can cause to both people and the environment we tend to just leave things gathering dust rather than disposing of them in a safe manner.  So looking at it from an eco-friendly point of view .. how do you get rid of unwanted paint?

Dry it out first

You cannot just tip paint down the sink or the toilet and hope for the best. It may seem like a good idea at the time but it really isn’t. If you have a crack or hole in one of your external pipes and the paint leaks into the soil then you could be doing more harm than good. Drying out first will make disposing of paint much easier - allowing you to break up the paint into hard pieces and dispose of them in the trash.

More often than not most of the unwanted paint you will come across will have dried out already but if you leave the cans out in the sun for a few hours with the lids off the sun should dry the paint out sufficiently for you to be able to dispose of it.

If you have larger amounts of paint to dispose of then you can speed up the hardening process by adding some cat litter, sawdust, sand or soil to the unwanted paint cans and leave it to solidify.   Once the paint is hard, you can take it to your local household waste and recycling centre to be disposed of appropriately.

You can also purchase a purposely made paint hardener, these are available in all good DIY stores and also online in places like Amazon.

Donate it to friends

If you’re sitting there thinking what to do with leftover paint why not consider  donating it to a local school or business, a charity or even friends or family.  There are a number of local community websites and forums such as where you can advertise your leftover paint for free.  This is obviously a win win situation as you can clear your garage or shed PLUS you get to do your bit for your community or earn some brownie points with friends and relatives.

Unwanted paint is also great for giving a new lease of life to old furniture if upcycling is your forte.  A lick of paint is an amazing way of transforming an old table or cabinet and if you sell it on you could always make a few extra £’s in the process.

Be DIY savvy by upcycling old furniture, take some inspo from @moditional_home who gave her sideboard a new lick of life with 'Sunday Soul'.

How do I dispose of old paint tins?

As it stands, only empty metal paint cans are widely accepted for recycling at most household waste recycling centres, paint tins that are made of plastic are not widely recyclable although saying that your local recycling centre may still accept plastic tins and dispose of them properly for you. 

Or don't and get creative like by repurposing your tins...

Where can I dispose of paint?

Firstly, drop us a note!

Send it back to COAT. Don't leave it gathering dust under the stairs, return it to COAT and we'll recycle the paint, tin and packaging. Pop it back in the original packaging and email us to arrange: We're trying to make things circular, and more sustainable. There is a £15 charge for this service which includes collection from any UK location and 100% recycle. At this point we can only accept COAT paint.

Or, check with your local recycling centre to see if they take liquid paint.  Only about 1 third of them offer this service so it’s definitely worth checking out.

If you visit this website and enter your city, town or postcode at you will be able to find out which recycling centres accept liquid paint for disposal.

If you local recycling centre doesn’t accept paint you can also make contact with your local council offices to see if they will take your liquid paint.  This is especially good if you have a lot of paint to dispose of and Councils would class this as a Hazardous Waste Collection service which they would charge you for. Every Council is different however so check with your own local Council to find out what your options are.

For example, the East Suffolk Council will collect, treat, and dispose of your leftover paint, but charges a minimum of £45.60 for this service.

If neither of the above are viable options for you then you could always hire a specialist to remove your liquid paint for you. Private contractors are available across the country .

  • Search online for private contractors who remove hazardous waste. Your local council may be able to give you a list of names of reputable contractors in the area
  • Private contractors can be expensive. If possible, get quotes from 2 or 3 different contractors so you can make sure you're getting the best deal.

… Or, Save it for the future?

Some of us, in fact the majority of us, just don’t like throwing things away.  So if you are “one of those” people who insist on keeping leftover paint for any future projects you may have in the pipeline then as long as the paint tin is sealed and secured properly, your paint could last for 6 months or so..

Firstly, hammer the tin lid down so it is sealed completely then cover it in cling film just to be on the safe side. Your paint can now be stored in a cool, dry environment, out of direct sunlight for your next DIY project.

Tell tale signs that your paint will not be fit for use would be lumps in the paint or a foul smell like stagnant water – if you encounter either of these then your paint has literally had it and should be disposed of in one of the ways we mentioned earlier.

Personally we like to start each job with a fresh tin of paint, it’s the only way to ensure that your paint isn’t tainted in any way and free from bits and lumps and to guarantee a smooth and professional finish.

Find out more about the rest of our eco creds here




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