Paint projects often end before all of the paint in the can is used up.
Improper storage, aging and waste contribute to excess leftover paints, which is where recycling operations come into play.
Paint must be properly disposed of and it is unlawful to just throw it away due to its toxic compounds. It can be recycled, and paint is one of the main collected items at household hazardous waste facilities.
As pointed out by Earth911, prior to 1978 paints were readily made with mercury, a neurological toxin. Oil-based paints produce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in the air, and are highly flammable.
Paints now mostly consist of latex varieties but some commercial businesses may still use lead based primers and paints. Latex paints, though they can be cleaned up with water, still contain noxious combinations and reduced levels of VOC’s.
There are numerous paint recycling companies that accept discarded latex paints, which saves countless of millions of cans of paint from being tossed and posing health and environmental threats. These are reprocessed to achieve like new standards of color and consistency or re-blended for resale, usually at a discounted price.
Some companies will also take steel paint cans and lids for recycling.
Earth911 provides a search for finding local paint recyclers, as well as a rundown of how paint is recycled, starting with sorting processes. Paint is then filtered to remove impurities and reclaimed into new paint. Latex paints can also be repurposed and included in other products like concrete forms and landscaping materials or mixed with other additives.
Some paint still ends up in landfills as an unwanted repercussion when it cannot be utilized in other ways. It may be blended with different products and chemicals that harden it so it can be dumped according to landfill regulations. Paints that are oil-based are not widely accepted, but may be recycled and burned for fuels.
Paint recyclers provide an important service, and proper disposal of toxic products we all use like paints is imperative for keeping unsafe materials in check.
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