It is illegal to dispose of paints and solvents into open water, such as drains and gutters. They contain chemicals that can contaminate groundwater and endanger human health. They should be recycled for use in new solvents and paint products or safely disposed.
Paint & Solvents
Paint & Solvents includes:Primers & Sealers Stains & Shellacs Varnishes Wood Coatings and Undercoats
Find a recycler
Paint contains chemicals such as solvents and metals that can contaminate our groundwater and have negative effects on human health. In particular older paints may contain the heavy metal lead, a cumulative poison. It is illegal to dispose of any liquid waste into open waters, so paint should never be poured down a drain or gutter. Paint can also be hazardous in landfills, as the chemcials in the paint can leach into the soil and our groundwater.
Paints and solvents can be recycled which can reduce the costs associated with hazardous-waste disposal. The process recovers solvents from paint waste for reuse, which are just as effective in terms of colour and durability. Recycling paint also reduces the demand for non-renewable raw materials such as oil for paint production.
A number of commercial recyclers offer paint and solvent recycling and services across a wide variety of industries. Lead-based paints may not be accepted and it is advisable to check with the recycler beforehand. There are also a number of operators such as chemical collection services that can provide safe disposal of paint when recycling is not possible.
Most scrap metal recyclers will accept empty unwanted steel paint cans, although some of them may not take tins that contained lead paint. Find a recycler for empty steel paint cans near you.
Paintback accepts up to 100 litres of unwanted paint per visit (containers must be 20 litres or under). The industry-led scheme is a cost-effective solution for trade painters to dispose of unwanted paint and packaging, providing 165 collection points nationally. To find a location near you, visit Paintback.
What Happens When It’s Recycled?
Paint containers can be recycled, subject to contamination. Solvent paint can be used as an alternative energy source. Water is separated from acrylic paint, with the by-product used in a variety of industrial applications. Recycling paint and containers significantly reduces waste to landfill.
Learn about Paintback - Australia's product stewardship scheme for paint.