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How to Dispose of Paint

14 July 2021

Paint and Old Paint Can Disposal – Ultimate Guide for Householders

Welcome to our how to dispose of paint guide! If you have no idea how to dispose of empty, full or half-full paint tins, this guide covers all of your paint disposal options. :

  1. How NOT to dispose of paint
  2. Donate for reuse
  3. Take it to the tip
  4. Council collection service
  5. Pay a specialist hazardous waste collector
  6. FAQs:
    1. Can I put paint in the bin?
    2. How long does it take paint to harden?
    3. How do you dispose of paint thinner, solvents and white spirits?
    4. How do you dispose of empty spray paints?
    5. How do I store paint?
    6. Can I return paint to the store I bought it from?


1. How not to dispose of paint

You shouldn’t pour paint down the drain because it’s a flammable, hazardous liquid. Pouring it into your plumbing system can cause toxic fumes to release into your home, as well as coating the inside of the pipes which can end up clogging the drains.

You also shouldn’t dispose of paint by mixing it in with your other rubbish, i.e your household bin, a skip or hide it with other non-hazardous rubbish being collected by a waste contractor. This is because it’s a hazardous material and therefore needs to be disposed of differently.

community repaint donation


2. Donate your old paint

An alternative to disposing of your paint is donation. Assuming your friends and family don’t want it, Community RePaint is your best option. They are a UK wide paint reuse network that works with local authorities, manufacturers, retailers, businesses and housing associations across the UK. Simply enter your postcode and find your nearest drop off point. 

You can also donate your paint online. Platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay are great if you’re looking to make a profit, but if you want to give your paint away for free, you could try Freegle and Freecycle. 


3. Take old paint to the recycling centre

You can normally dispose of paint cans at your local HWRC, also known as a tip/ recycling centre/ civic amenity site. Unless your tip has a paint reuse scheme, you’ll have to make sure the paint has fully dried before taking it for disposal.

Before turning up at a recycling centre, check entry requirements. In London for example, you can only visit tips in a borough where you're a resident. Further afield, you can often visit all recycling centres within your county - but it's worth making sure before you make the trip! You may also need to book.


London recycling centres

Below is a table of all London tips and whether or not they accept paint for disposal:

HWRC accept paint
Acton Re-use and Recycling Centre no
Barking & Dagenham, Frizlands Lane Recycling Centre yes
Barnet Civic Amenity Site yes
Bracknell Household Waste Recycling Centre yes
Brent, Abbey Road Brent Recycling Centre yes
Bromley, Churchfields Road resue and recycling centre yes
Camden, Regis Road Recycling Centre yes
Croydon, Factory Lane Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Ealing, Greenford Re-use and Recycling Centre yes
Enfield, Barrowell Green Civic Amenity Site yes
Greenwich Reuse and Recycling Centre no
Haringey, Western Road Reuse & Recycling Centre no
Harrow Recycling Centre yes
Havering, Gerpins Lane Re-use and Recycling Centre yes
Hillingdon, New Years Green Lane yes
Hillingdon, West Drayton civic amenity site yes
Hounslow, Space Waye Recycling Centre yes
Islington, Hornsey Street Reuse and Recycling Centre no
Kingston Household Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Lambeth Household Recycling Centre no
Lewisham Reuse and Recycling Centre no
Merton Recycling and Reuse Centre yes
Newham, Jenkins Lane Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Redbridge, Chigwell Road Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Richmond, Townmead Road Re-use and Recycling Centre yes
Southwark Household Reuse & Recycling Centre yes
Sutton Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Tower Hamlets Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Waltham Forest Reuse and Recycling Centre yes
Wandsworth, Smugglers Way HWRC yes



4. Council collection service

Using your local council’s bulky waste collection service is another waste disposal option to consider.  Not all councils will accept though and many have a separate collection service for hazardous waste.

Only 2 councils in London accept paint as part of their bulky waste service - Barnet and Hammersmith & Fulham council, but the latter only accepts paint that is full or part full as they give it to the London Reuse Network.

However, most London councils offer another collection alternative.  City of London runs a hazardous waste collection (which includes the collection of paint) on behalf of 30 out of 32 London councils.  The other two councils not included are Haringey and Hillingdon who advise you to either take your paint to your local HWRC or, if it’s a water-based paint, let it dry out and dispose of it with your normal rubbish.


5. Pay a specialist hazardous waste collector

Paint is classed as hazardous waste so you have to use a specialist hazardous waste collector to come and collect. This is different to a regular licensed waste carrier as they need an extra license to collect hazardous waste. It's really important to check any company you use is appropriately licensed.

Waste removal companies disposing of paint require an upper-tier waste carrier’s license awarded by the Environment Agency - you can check if they have a valid license here.  Upper-tier licenses registration numbers always start with the letters CBDU.



And now some answers to your burning questions about all things paint disposal!


a) How long does it take paint to harden?

If you have a lot of paint, it can take a while to harden, sometimes even years.  Because of this, we recommend adding things to the paint to speed up the process such as paint hardener, sawdust and sand.


b) How do you dispose of paint thinner, solvents and white spirits?

If you’ve decided you don’t want to keep your paint thinners, solvents or white spirits stored away for reuse, you can dispose of them in a number of different ways.  They must be disposed of as hazardous waste - you could take it to your local civic amenity site if they accept it, you could use your council’s hazardous waste collection service or you could pay a specialist disposal contractor to dispose of it for you.

By the way, if your paint thinner / solvent bottles are completely empty and dry, you can dispose of them with your normal household rubbish.


c) How do you dispose of empty spray paint?

Spray paint is an aerosol and you can dispose of these in your recycling bin as long as they’re completely empty.  Make sure you dispose of it as a whole though and don’t crush or pierce - this is dangerous because the can may still be pressurised.

spray paint bottles aerosols disposal


d) Can I put paint in the bin?

You can’t just put any paint type in your bin - oil-based paint is hazardous and can’t be thrown in the bin, even if the paint has hardened.  However, you can dispose of water-based paint (emulsion) in your bin but it first needs to be fully dried out.

If you have small amounts of paint, we’d recommend pouring it onto cardboard or newspaper, leaving it to dry and then disposing of it in your bin as normal.

If you have a decent amount of paint left, you’ll need to take the lid off and leave it out to dry.  To speed up the drying process, you can put sand / sawdust / paint hardener in.  Once the paint has hardened, it can be disposed of.

Also, if you have any empty paint tins, plastic containers or clean lids, you can include them in your recycling.


e) How do I store paint?

High-quality paint can last up to 10 years so if you think there’s any chance you might want to use that colour again, it’s worth storing it away for a rainy day.

When you have less than half a paint tin left, it’s best to store the paint in something like a jar rather than the original tin.  This is because the smaller containers have a smaller paint-to-air ratio, meaning the paint won’t dry up as quickly.  If you have quite a lot of paint left and you’re keeping it in the original tin, make sure to clean the inside of the lid so there won’t be any dried up paint flakes that could fall in.

Another top tip for storing paint is to keep it in a cool, dry place. Really cold places can make paint curdle and humid places can cause the can to rust and rust flakes can fall into the paint - not ideal!


f) Can I return paint to the store I bought it from?

Most DIY stores will offer a refund / take back if the paint is unused or if you aren’t happy with the colour.  For example, B&Q will exchange/ refund if the paint was purchased less than 185 days ago.  So, if you haven’t used your paint, check out the retailer’s refund policy and save the paint from being disposed of.



Thanks for reading our how to dispose of paint guide - we hope you found it useful. Please note that the LoveJunk marketplace cannot accept any hazardous waste and this means you cannot dispose of paint via our platform. Read more about our hazardous waste policy.

However, if you have any non-hazardous waste you need to get rid of, you might want to look at:

Or tap below!


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