Latex Paint Recycling
Summary of Latex Paint Disposal:
- Latex paint is better for the environment than oil-based paint.
- Low VOC and No VOC paint is safer to use than standard paint.
- Always try to buy only what you need.
- Use up or recycle unwanted leftover paint.
- You may be able to donate unopened, sealed cans of paint to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Retailers Accepting Latex Paint:
Please click on our Household Hazardous Waste webpage for disposal information.
Latex Paint Information
Latex paint has many advantages over oil-based paint. Latex paint emits less odor, cleans up with soap and water, and breathes allowing moisture to escape. Latex paint, especially acrylic latex, is less prone to fading or yellowing than oil-based paint. Because latex paint is not as sensitive to alkali as oil-based paint, it can be used over cement and plaster. Latex paint is dry to the touch in minutes and ready for a second coat in about four hours, even in humid conditions. Finally, because latex paint contains anywhere from 50% to 90% water, the environmental impact from water-based paint is much less than oil-based paint.
On average, the typical household has 3-5 containers of unwanted latex paint in storage. An estimated "3,000 plus" tons of waste latex paint is sent to Illinois landfills each year. There is an economical and environmentally preferable alternative—recycling!
Over the years, the Illinois EPA has tried a variety of partnership programs with local governments and businesses. Funding for these programs has been reduced and may be eliminated. Dependable alternatives need to be established and utilized.
Latex Paint Tips
Here are some tips on ways to reduce the amount of latex paint in need of disposal:
- Buy only what you need
- Take back unopened cans (if you can't, contact Habitat for Humanity ReStore to learn if they will accept them)
Use it up—Keep painting, add another coat. Paint something else – paint old furniture, a piece of cardboard, something that will use it up.
- Store paint for later use– Be certain the lid is on tightly, consider dating the label for your own reference, be certain some paint is visible on the top edge so you can easily see what color it is and keep the label free of paint so you can read the type of paint and cleaning instructions easily (I.e. flat, acrylic, glossy).
- Place the can(s) of partially filled paint upside down to keep paint fresh. Avoid storing it at extreme temperatures (never let it freeze). Paint that has been frozen and thawed is not reusable or recyclable.
- Recycle the paint. Several stores and special collection events are now offering latex paint recycling for a fee. The fees are comparable to the cost of purchasing paint hardening products with the benefit of recycling instead of contributing to the landfill.
- Dry up the paint– Open the can and place outside (away from children & pets), add some kitty litter, sawdust, or paint hardening agent to the can and allow it to evaporate. Once the paint is hard and dried out, knock out the clump in the regular garbage and recycle the steel can
- Calculate and buy the amount of paint you need for a project. Painting projects require about one gallon of paint to cover 400 square feet of smooth surface (rough surfaces require more). Compute your paint needs by figuring the total area of your project in square feet (Wall length multiplied by width, minus doors, windows, etc.) and dividing the total by 400.
- There are several paint calculators on the web or you can bring your measurements to a retailer and ask for assistance. While there, ask about returning unopened cans of paint. Many retailers allow this but programs may vary.
- Use it properly. To protect your health, always apply latex paint in well-ventilated areas and wear a protective face mask and goggles that completely cover your eyes. This is especially important when spray painting.
- Consider purchasing Low-VOC or No-VOC to protect your health and overall air quality
Save Time & Recycle
By utilizing latex paint recycling opportunities, you are reducing the amount of paint stored in your home, while reducing the amount of hardened paint sent to the landfill.
There is a fee to take used paint to participating retailers for recycling. The recycling fees apply to each container, regardless of the amount of paint in the container. It may be in your interest to combine several small quantities into as few existing containers as possible.
- $1.50 per quart container
- $2.50 per gallon container
- $3.50 per 2 gallon container
- $8.00 per 5 gallon pail
(prices are subject to change; call for current prices)
to download PDF Latex Paint Brochure