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Paint Recycling Guide

Recycling Paint

Paint Recycling Guide

Disposing of paint in the trash or sink causes toxic chemicals to seep into the soil and water, thus creating a very real threat to individuals and the environment, not to mention it is illegal. Leftover paint is considered household hazardous waste. Household hazardous waste products, such as paints, contain potentially hazardous metals that require special care when you dispose of them.

Where To Recycle Paint 

There are about 50 paint retailers in San Diego that currently participate in the PaintCare program. PaintCare is a paint stewardship program on behalf of paint manufacturers in California that have passed paint stewardship laws in order to keep harmful chemicals out of the environment. The program allows participating paint retailers to take back paint from residents to recycle it properly. Examples of participating paint retailers include Sherwin Williams and Dunn Edwards. Visit and search “Paint” to find the closest PaintCare location near you.

Types Of Paint Accepted At PaintCare Locations 

  • Interior and exterior architectural paints: latex, acrylic, water-based, alkyd, oil-based, enamel (including textured coatings)
  • Deck coatings, floor paints (including elastomeric)
  • Primers, sealers, undercoaters
  • Stains
  • Shellacs, lacquers, varnishes, urethanes (single component)
  • Waterproofing concrete/masonry/wood sealers and repellents (not tar or bitumen-based)
  • Metal coatings, rust preventatives
  • Field and lawn paints

Paint Recycling Checklist

  • Paint must be in its original container
  • Container must be labeled and legible
  • Container must be in good condition, not leaking
  • Container must be 5 gallons in size or smaller
  • Check with the site if you have more than 5 gallons

What To Do If Labels Are Missing And Paint Cans Are Rusting

Paint cans that are leaking, unlabeled, rusting or empty are not accepted at PaintCare drop-off sites. Paint retailers also do not accept aerosol, industrial, original equipment or specialty coatings. These items should be taken to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. Visit to find the closest facility near you.

What To Do With Paint Cans That Are Empty

Paint cans that are completely empty or all dried up can be placed in your recycling bin. Paint cans with less than 1 inch left can be left to dry for up to a week. Another option is to dry the paint out using cat litter. Afterwards just remove the lid before placing in your recycling bin.