Oxfordshire County Council refuses to accept waste paint at its Household Waste Recycling Centres. So, what can you do with your waste paint? If your paint is still usable, there’s no need to throw it away – you should donate it to the Community RePaint scheme at Orinoco.
We accept usable waste paint free of charge at our scrapstore in Headington (Oxford) during opening hours. We make a small charge for paint we take in that is unsuitable for re-use.
We also organise collections from communities and businesses for a fee. If you are interested in organising a paint ‘amnesty’ in your community, a street collection or a pick-up from your premises, please contact us.
We accept paint that is of usable quantity and quality. This means:
- A usable quantity of low VOC paint (e.g. emulsion) is one litre or more.
- A usable quantity of high VOC paint (e.g. gloss) is half a litre or more in a small (approximately one litre) container but two litres in a large (five litre) container.
- Paint must be in its original container. We will not accept paints that have been mixed together after purchase.
- The paint container must be in good condition with no leaks and a secure-fitting lid.
- We do not accept paint that is over ten years old.
- We do not accept paint that has been frost-damaged.
- We do not (in most circumstances) accept hazardous materials.
There are two reasons for not accepting paint over ten years old: paints of this age have less chance of being usable, and they pre-date the current VOC and hazardous-chemical labelling systems.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic (carbon-based) chemicals that evaporate at room temperatures. They cause air pollution and may be harmful to human health.
The VOC content of paint is now usually indicated on the container. Paint manufacturers have introduced a five-band classification that describes the VOC content as Minimal, Low, Medium, High or Very High.
Traditionally, emulsions – which use water as solvent – have a zero, minimum or low VOC rating, while ‘oil-based’ paints such as glosses, satinwoods, eggshells, varnishes and specialist paints have a medium, high or very high rating. Brush-cleaning chemicals are typically rated high or very high.
Today, many modern glosses, eggshells, satinwoods and varnishes are advertised as ‘low odour’ and, as the name suggests, have medium or low VOC ratings. This is a relatively new development, and as a rule of thumb you should assume that any paint of this type is high VOC unless stated otherwise on the container.
Some paints and decorating products, particularly brush-cleaning chemicals and specialist finishes, are classed as hazardous waste. Since 2002, such products have been clearly labelled with a CHIP symbol – a black icon in an orange box.
Orinoco will accept some hazardous materials – for example, usable quantities of Hammerite paint, unused brush cleaner, etc. – but we only have a limited capacity to store these materials. We recommend that you telephone before visiting to avoid disappointment.
You should not add hazardous waste to your household rubbish, pour it down the drain or dispose of it on your property.
In Oxfordshire, these materials must be taken to one of the Household Waste Recycling Centres operated by Oxfordshire County Council for appropriate treatment. You can find your nearest centre by visiting www.oxfordshire.gov.uk. If you are unable to reach one of the designated sites, phone the Council’s ChemCollect service on 08450 50 45 50.
Other Paint Disposal Options
Oxfordshire County Council recommends that you do not buy more paint than you need. They suggest that excess paint should be donated to a friend, relative or us. If you want to dispose of your paint, they suggest that you solidify it by mixing it with soil, sand or sawdust before leaving it to harden with the lid off.
We have tried this and found it to be both difficult and messy. Of the three mixing aids the Council recommends we have had most success with sawdust. It is, however, important that the mixture is made very stiff. If it is left as a slurry, it takes weeks to dry.
High VOC paint may be taken to some Household Waste Recycling Centres where they may accept it as hazardous waste because of the solvents it contains. We don’t recommend solidifying this kind of paint with the sawdust method, as it will expose you and anyone nearby to a high dose of VOCs.