How to

How to get rid of old paint safely

Whether you’re looking to clear away old paint from the shed or you’re on clean-up for a current DIY project, it’s crucial to dispose of paint safely. Getting rid of leftover paint isn’t a matter of throwing it out with your weekly rubbish collection and paint should never be poured down household or stormwater drains to find its way into waterways.

Clear out the paint cans

Are you keeping paint for touch-ups or just in case? Make sure you store it properly. “Paint can last for longer than five years if it’s stored correctly in a cool area, with the lid on tight,” says Resene paint expert Jay Sharples.

If you want to know if paint is well and truly past its use-by date, use your nose when you open a pail or can. “You’ll know straight away if it’s off because it smells horrendous.

If it smells a bit funny and doesn’t smell like paint, I wouldn’t suggest using it. If you’re not sure, take it into a Resene ColorShop and ask the staff there,” Jay advises.

Recycle paint that’s still usable

If your paint appears to still be okay, it can be recycled in the Resene PaintWise programme. Select Resene ColorShops are designated as Resene PaintWise collection centres. Unwanted paint and paint containers of any brand can be dropped off for Resene ColorShop staff to check before acceptance, with non-Resene paint incurring a small fee to offset the cost of the programme.

There are times when Resene PaintWise can’t accept your old paint. Government regulations limit how much recycled paint can be held in one location. Lids need to be easily removable and the paint label needs to be legible and match the contents.

“The can needs to have labelling on it so we can see what’s in it. If it’s been under the house for the past 15-20 years and the snails have been eating the label, chances are you won’t be able to return it to the Resene PaintWise programme, because they won’t know what’s in it. Cans and pails also can’t have any rubbish or old roller sleeves or paint strainers in there. It’s surprising what’s left in cans when people bring them back,” Jay says.

Resene donates recycled paint to community groups and cans and pails also get recycled.

The Resene PaintWise programme makes it easy for you to recycle unused paint.

Dispose of paint that is no longer suitable

If your paint isn’t suitable for returning to Resene PaintWise, you can dispose of it through your local council’s hazardous waste programme at a transfer station. Check your council website for details.

To keep or not to keep

Jay has advice for those considering whether or not to hang on to the last bit of paint at the end of a project. “If you’ve only got a little bit of paint left, don’t think ‘yeah, I’ll keep it’. For touch ups, you should be going from corner to corner of a wall, for example. Don’t just touch-up the area around the damage because it will be visible. If you’ve just kept a little bit of paint for 10 years, it’s not going to be enough for wall-to-wall coverage and you’re going to have to buy some fresh paint anyway.”

Instead, try using that last little bit of paint in the pail on an extra coat for added protection. Empty paint containers, with dry paint residue inside, can also be dropped off to Resene PaintWise collection centres.

It’s always best to donate the paint to a community group or someone else or recycle it while it is in good condition. Once it has gone off or hardened then the ingredients that went to make that paint end up wasted.

While it may seem eco, avoid putting any paint into your compost bin. It is better to get paint recycled and reused than use your compost bin as a rubbish bin for paint which could be used for something else.

Clean as you go

Are you still on the tools with your paint job? Resene has some tips and tricks to help you clean up and minimise waste.

  • When you’ve finished painting using waterborne paint, wipe or squeeze excess paint from brushes and roller sleeves on to old rags, shredded newspaper or cardboard. Allow it to dry and dispose of it in your household waste.
  • Wash brushes, rollers and other equipment in a large pail. Transfer washed items to another container filled with clean water for a final rinse. Leave liquid in the first container overnight. By morning, the paint solids will have settled at the bottom of the container.
  • Gently pour the liquid on top into the ground, where there’s no risk of it running off to streams or stormwater drains. Scrape out paint solids from the bottom of the container on to old rags or newspaper. When dry, throw out in your household rubbish.

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