I was amazed at reading an article by how stuff works – the following information.

  • Americans throw out 64 million gallons (242 million liters) of unused interior and exterior paint
  • That’s enough paint to paint 3,878,788 miles (6,242,304 kilometers) of highway stripes. To put that into perspective, it’s enough paint to paint 16 solid highway stripes from the Earth to the moon
  • It’s also enough to fill 128 Olympic swimming pools Every year.

And even worse yet – most of this paint was the result of over purchasing. The EPA says:


And this got me thinking, I wonder if everyone knows how to properly dispose of their unused paint? Let’s look at a few tips for handling that unused paint:

Latex paint (water based paint) First the paint must be hardened.

You can purchase a paint hardener or use other additives like kitty litter, mulch or shredded paper. Once the paint is hard, it can then be scooped out and tossed in the normal trash. The can be placed in your trash as well. Although you can dispose of the dried paint, before 1990 liquid latex paint contained mercury, so it is important NOT to:

  • pour latex paint into drains, onto the ground, or into creeks, streams or rivers
  • put cans of liquid paint out for regular trash pick-up
  • try to burn paint

Disposing of paint this way introduces contaminants into the air, soil and ground water that can eventually work their way into the food chain.

Oil based paint Since oil based paints are classified as Hazardous Household Waste (HHW), they will need to treated differently. These paints are flammable, toxic and contain harmful solvents, resins and pigments and therefore need to be handled with care.

To dispose of these paints, you will need to take them to a local disposal facility that takes HHW. You may want to call before visiting, since they all have different policies on what they do with oil based paint. Oil-based paint is either incinerated or recycled by actually using the paint, or repackaging the paint to give back to customers. All labels must be intact for disposal instructions.

In Duval county Household Hazardous Waste can be dropped off at 2675 Commonwealth Ave. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The facility is closed on Sunday and Monday. For more information or to arrange for special handling of unusual material, call (904) 387-8847. To report illegal dumping of household hazardous waste, please call (904) 665-8025.

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