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Recycle for Scotland

What to do with paint and paint cans?

03 APR 20 | 2 minute read

Decorating and DIY is a favourite pastime for many. It’s a great way to freshen up your home without buying new furniture or, at the extreme end of the scale, moving house.

But what to do with the half-empty paint cans lurking about at the back of the shed after you’ve finished your projects?

Household recycling collection

not currently recycled

Paint and paint cans are not collected through household recycling.

Household waste recycling centre (HWRC)

not currently recycled

Your local recycling centre may have a donation point for reuse of paint however councils are unable to accept liquid paint for disposal, as liquid wastes are banned from landfill sites.

If you can't use it up or find it a good home by giving it away you will need to harden it before disposal. Add sawdust, sand or soil to the tin or buy a paint hardener  and leave the lid off until the paint becomes solid and dry (pierce the dried paint before taking it to a household waste recycling centre to make sure it's fully hardened).

Solvent-based paint, paint thinner and white spirit should be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Most recycling centres only accept empty or dry, metal paint cans. Currently, plastic paint cans are not widely accepted - check your local council website for more information

Other recycling collections

Recycling facilities exist

Donate your unwanted paint to a local project - Community Repaint is a network of paint donation schemes that accepts usable paint suitable for domestic application.

Unfortunately, they are unable to accept oil-based glosses, satinwoods, eggshells, primers or undercoats which have the orange high-VOC symbol paint, aerosols & spray paints, paint over 10 years old, paint containing lead or paint that is not in its original container. 

What can you do?

  1. Make your paint last longer by ensuring the lid is on tightly. Tip the can upside down for a few seconds to stop a skin forming then store upright

  2. Protect the paint from frost and extreme temperatures as these can damage the paint

  3. Pass on paint to a local community group or project

  4. Hold onto leftover paint for upcycling projects

Recycling is constantly evolving and changing so check back for updates or try our recycling locator to find out what you can recycle at home and where you can recycle or pass on unwanted items in your local area.