How to Recycle Paint
Where to Go
What is Accepted
What is the PaintCare Fee

How to Recycle Paint

How do I recycle paint?
To use any PaintCare drop-off site, prepare your unwanted paint, stains, and other accepted PaintCare products by ensuring lids are secured tightly, no containers are leaking, and paint is in its original container with the original manufacturer label. Do not mix paints together or drop off empty paint cans.
Pack paint cans in a sturdy cardboard box in your vehicle and take them to a PaintCare drop-off site. Call sites in advance to confirm their hours and availability.

What do I do with dry paint?
While our drop-off sites can take dry paint, we prefer not to recieve it because there is no technology to recycle it at this time. Paint that is already dried out (rock hard) can be disposed of in the trash. When dried out paint is placed in the trash, the lid should be removed so the collector can see that the can does not contain liquid paint. Please note that in California, placing dried paint in the trash is prohibited; but it can be dropped off at PaintCare drop-off sites.

How can I have my paint picked up?
If you have a minimum of 100 gallons (counted by container size, not content), we can pick the paint up from your location. Please visit our Large Volume Pickup page for information on this service.

Colorado: For a limited time, if you have ten gallons of paint or more, PaintCare is offering a door to door pickup service for households in certain counties. There is no charge for this service, the cost is covered by the PaintCare fee on sales of new paint in Colorado.

Colorado Springs Area (El Paso and Teller County): Visit www.actenviro.com/paintcare-request or call (866) 333-9222 and select option 3 to see if you qualify and submit a service request.

Denver Area (Arapahoe, Adams, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson County): Call (720) 854-8722 to see if you qualify and submit a service request.

Do all paint retailers take back paint?
No. Retailers serve as PaintCare drop-off sites voluntarily. Not all paint and hardware stores have enough storage space or staff to be drop-off sites. Typically, about twenty percent of paint retailers in a state participate. If you know of a store near you that would like to be a PaintCare drop-off site, ask the manager to contact PaintCare.

How can I become a drop-off site?
Retailers may volunteer to be a paint drop-off site and accept paint from households and certain businesses in their community. If you would like to be a drop-off site, please read our Retailer Fact Sheet and fill out our Online Retailer Interest Form.

Can businesses drop off paint with PaintCare?
Businesses can drop off any volume of water-based PaintCare products that a site chooses to accept, however there are restrictions on the volume of oil-based PaintCare products businesses can drop off.

What happens to the leftover paint collected at PaintCare sites?
In general, paint is managed according to a policy of highest, best use. This means that some of the better-quality paint is made available to consumers through reuse programs, and most of the paint is recycled. If it can’t be reused or recycled, processors find the next best use for it.

Latex-based products make up about 80% of what PaintCare accepts at drop-off sites. Most of the paint is sent to processors and used to manufacturer recycled-content paint products. Some latex paint is used for concrete mixtures, landscaping materials, or as a component of daily cover for landfill management. A small percentage of dry latex paint is securely disposed of if no other use can be found.

Oil-based products make up about 20% of the products collected at PaintCare sites. All of these products are sent to processors, and most of it is used as fuel. In some states, a small percentage of oil-based paint is recycled into new paint products.

Paint containers are separated by type, metal and plastic. Most containers are sent for recycling by paint processors. Some containers are sent to a landfill if they cannot be recycled.

Where to Go

Where can I take my leftover paint?
Use our site locator to find sites in your area. In non-PaintCare states (states that have not passed a paint stewardship law), our site locator lists your nearest local household hazardous waste (HHW) programs and events. If you can’t find an option on our site locator, contact your local government waste authority.

Where do I take products not accepted by PaintCare?
Call your local household hazardous waste (HHW) program or garbage company to learn about the HHW services in your community. If your area doesn’t have any HHW collection services, call your health department or city hall for guidance.

What do I do with empty cans?
PaintCare drop-off sites do not accept empty paint cans. Depending on where you live, you may be able to recycle empty paint cans in your curbside recycling program. If not, they should be disposed of in the trash. Check with your local recycling or trash services to find out local regulations. In most places, putting any liquids in the trash or recycling bins is prohibited. Any cans you recycle or dispose of must be truly empty, and the lid should be removed so that trash collectors can see that they are empty.

Do I have to based in a PaintCare state to use the service in that state?
Yes, the state programs are available only to residents and businesses based in that state.

District of Columbia: the DC PaintCare program is the only one that requires drop-off sites to check for proof of residency. We do this because of the proximity to Maryland and Virginia and our concern that paint from these two large states could overwhelm the DC sites and impact the program’s finances. An exception is available for painting contractors in DC. If a painting contractor used the paint for a job in DC (e.g., to paint a DC-based home, business, government facility, etc.), but they are not a District resident, they can still drop-off their leftover paint if they sign a special form at the drop-off site and provide the DC address where the paint was used.

Do all paint retailers take back paint?
No. Retailers serve as PaintCare drop-off sites voluntarily. Not all paint and hardware stores have enough storage space or staff to be drop-off sites. Typically, about twenty percent of paint retailers in a state participate. If you know of a store near you that would like to be a PaintCare drop-off site, ask the manager to contact PaintCare.

Where can I find recycled-content paint for purchase?
We have a list of locations known to sell recycled content paint. Please note that this list is not comprehensive. Contact recycled content paint manufacturers to confirm where their products are available.

What is Accepted?

What will PaintCare drop off sites accept?

Please visit our Products We Accept page for a full list of PaintCare products. PaintCare sites have limits on how much paint they can accept, but they all take at least 5 gallons of paint per visit; some sites take more. Call the site in advance to confirm hours and whether they can accept the types and amounts of paint you plan to drop off.

Does PainCare accept wash water?

No, the program does not accept water used to clean out paint sprayers or brushes. Contact your local water/sewer authority or HHW program and follow their advice for disposing of wash water.

PaintCare Fee

What is the PaintCare fee and how is it determined?
The PaintCare fee is applied to the purchase price of architectural paint in every PaintCare state. The PaintCare fee in each state covers the cost of a fully operating program in that state including collection, transportation, processing, and public outreach. The fee ranges from 30 cents to $2.45 depending on the container size and state. For a fee chart in each state, please visit our PaintCare fee page.

To determine the fee, PaintCare first estimates the total expenses to run the program in that state. Next, we estimate the annual paint sales in each state for each container size. Then, we divide the estimated total expenses of the program by the number of containers to be sold in the state, taking into account each size container.

Since PaintCare is a nonprofit organization, the fee is used to fully operate the program in each state. The fee may be decreased in the future if it was set at a level higher than what is needed to cover expenses, or the fee may be increased if it was set too low and does not cover expenses.

Is there a cost to drop off paint for recycling?
No, there is no charge for dropping off paint at a PaintCare site.

Do I get my fee back? Is it a deposit?
No, the fee is not a deposit. The fee is used entirely to cover the expenses of running the program. The fee is not given back as a deposit for dropping off PaintCare products or empty paint cans (empty cans are not accepted by the PaintCare program at all).

Can the PaintCare fee be taxed?
Yes, in most states the fee is taxed. It is not taxed in Oregon because there is no sales tax in Oregon (note: the fee is part of the product price, it is not a tax itself). The fee is not taxed in Maine because the state passed a law to exclude the fee from sales tax as of December 1, 2018.