How to Recycle Paints and Solvents: A Comprehensive Guide

25 March 2024

Paint disposal is a task that we are all likely to face at some point in our lives. Whether you are simply renovating your home and haven't used up all of the paint you bought, or you are a business offering painting services, you are likely to encounter a situation where you have excess paint left over.

Additionally, you are likely to come across a time when you need to dispose of leftover household solvents too.

Both paint and solvents are classified as hazardous waste, meaning that you need to dispose of these products carefully, no matter whether you have a bulk of leftover paint from a commercial job or a single can from your home improvements.

In this article, we share why the correct disposal of these waste streams is so important and how to dispose of them in a compliant manner.

Why Are Paints And Solvents Considered Hazardous?

There are several reasons why these materials are classed as hazardous when it comes to their disposal.

Many paints and solvents contain a number of toxic chemicals in them. These can include heavy metals (lead or cadmium), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). If not handled and disposed of properly, these can cause serious harm to human health and the environment.

Additionally, paints and solvents are incredibly flammable and pose a significant risk of fire if not stored or disposed of safely.

Finally, improper disposal of these materials can cause environmental contamination. When left in landfills or poured down drains, substances leach into surrounding soil and water, polluting ecosystems and harming wildlife. Not to mention, the VOCs that are released from paints and solvents contribute to air pollution, impacting air quality and human health.

Why Is It Important To Dispose Of Paint And Solvents Properly?

The correct disposal of waste paints and solvents is imperative because incorrect disposal can have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

If you pour paint down a drain, the hazardous chemicals are likely to harm animals and plants that drink from that pool of water.

Additionally, with the flammability of the materials, if they are placed in a landfill there is a high chance of a waste fire igniting and spreading, causing damage to land and potentially human life.

Disposing of Various Types of Paints and Solvents

Paints and solvents are separated into two categories based on their compounds; water-based and oil-based. Because of this, their impacts on the environment vary.

Water-based paints and solvents contain fewer hazardous chemicals compared to oil-based solvents, meaning they are less harmful.

However, just because water-based paints and solvents seem less harmful, they should still be disposed of in a compliant and careful manner at a recycling centre.

How To Dispose Of Paints And Solvents

One of the best ways to remove paint from your storage is to find someone who can use it on their project. This reduces the amount of pollutant materials going to recycling.

If you are unable to reuse the materials, you will need to take your waste paint cans and solvents to your local recycling centre.

We recommend that you dry any paint out, where possible because it is more hazardous when wet.

With the paint dry, you can gather paints and solvents and bring them to our Kennington facility in Poole. These must be kept separate from other waste types you want to dispose of at the facility.

Once you get to our site, head straight to our weighbridge, where we will be able to provide you with a waste consignment note for your records, ensuring you are compliant and reducing the paperwork you have to complete.

Having completed the paperwork, you will need to head straight to the paints and solvents waste bays, where you will be able to unload your waste. We require that you ensure the paint cans and solvents are left in the assigned waste bays, as this enables us to recycle as much as possible while keeping our staff and other customers safe.

We charge per volume for paints and solvent disposal rather than by weight.

If you are a commercial business with large amounts of these materials to dispose of, we recommend that you bring them in IBCs or wrapped up on pallets.

What Happens To The Waste Paint And Solvents Once They Have Been Disposed Of?

After being divided into solvent-based and water-based paints, the water-based paints are sent for recycling. Paints that are solvent-based are sent for energy recovery, and the packaging is recycled in its entirety.

Where possible, we send solvents for recycling too. If they are not able to be recycled, they will go for secure disposal, where they undergo treatments to neutralise hazardous chemicals.

Paint And Solvent Recycling At W&S Recycling

W&S Recycling's Kennington Road facility is licensed to accept both waste paints and solvents.

At this facility, we can take commercial and residential waste for a range of waste types, including scrap cars, WEEE waste, paper, metal and cardboard for recycling.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or concerns about paint and solvent disposal. Our team are experts in the disposal of all types of waste and are always happy to help.

Call us on 01202 675564 or email us at



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