Getting Rid of Paint
Look in almost any home and you’ll find a basement full of cans of unused paint. Over the years, the cans accumulate until one day they seem to have taken over. What to do with all that paint?
For municipalities, managing unused paint is neither easy nor cheap. Disposal costs can run up to $4 per gallon can. To avoid these high costs, some states are implementing product stewardship laws that require paint manufactures to help manage leftover paint, including paying for its disposal. For example, Rhode Island’s surplus paint program beings this July, and Connecticut will follow suit with a program next year.
So far, no such program is on the horizon for Massachusetts. Until that day, we are left to manage unwanted paint and cover the costs on our own. So how should Needham residents manage their paint? To begin with, it depends on the type of paint.
Latex paint is not a hazardous product; it is just a messy product.
If a can of Latex paint is close to full residents that have a sticker to Needham’s Recycling and Transfer Station (RTS) can bring it to any Paint Collection Day held at the RTS on the third Saturday of the month, April through October from 8:00 – 3:30 (the next collection day is Saturday, June 15). Residents that do not have a sticker to the RTS may bring paint to the October paint collection day only. Paint that is in good, reusable condition – i.e., reasonably new, not rusty, and has never been frozen, will be placed in the paint reuse shed for other residents to take away for free, otherwise it will be safely disposed of.
All other cans of Latex paint can be disposed of with regular household trash IF paint in the can has been dried out. If a can has just an inch or two of paint, leave the lid off and the paint will dry out on its own. Larger quantities need to have an additive to dry it out. A scoop of kitty litter or a spoonful of “latex waste paint hardener,” available at paint and hardware stores, will dry out a gallon of paint overnight.
Unlike Latex paints, oil-based and alkyd paints, stains and polyurethanes can be hazardous when in their liquid form. Empty cans and cans with dried out or almost dried out product should be disposed of with regular household trash. However, cans that are more than a quarter full of liquid should be brought to the monthly Paint Collection Days.
Paint strippers, thinners, removes and similar products may also be brought to the monthly collection day as long as they are in their original containers. Products that are not in their original containers, or do not have their original label, must be brought to the annual Household Hazardous Waste Day in October.
Empty metal paint cans, even with some dry paint residue, can be recycled in the scrap metal area.
Free surplus paint, stain, and related products are available at the Surplus Paint Shed at the RTS every Saturday April through November. Taking free products from the shed reduces the amount of useable products that enter our waste stream, helps defray the cost to the town to dispose of perfectly good but unwanted paint-related products, and provides residents with usable paint and related products no cost. A win-win-win situation.
This is part one of a series on What Can Be Recycled by Ann Dorfman, Superintendent of Recycling and Solid Waste, Town of Needham Public Works Department. For additional information about recycling visit www.needhamma.gov/RTS.