Paint & Solvents

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 includes:

Steel Paint Cans
Paint & Solvents

Why Recycle?

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 should never be poured down a drain, gutter or sent to landfill.  Paints and solvents can be recycled which can reduce the costs associated with hazardous-waste disposal. It recovers solvents from paint waste for reuse and recycled paint is 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.

Recycling Options

A number of commercial recyclers offer paint and solvent recycling and services a wide variety of industries. Lead based paints may not be accepted and it is advisable to check with recycler before. There are also a number of operators, such as chemical collection services that can provide safe disposal of paint where 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.

What Happens When It’s Recycled?

Paint and solvent recycling units use simple distillation. Excess paint is poured into the machine’s plastic liner and the lid is closed. The paint is heated until the solvent boils into a vapour and the paint residue is collected as a powder. The vapour is then cooled and the solvent drips into a collection tank to be reused. The paint solids retrieved during the recycling process can be reformulated into quality paint coatings.

More Info & Sources

NSW Environment Protection Authority

Paint Stewardship


Foundation Partner