The U.S. EPA estimates that approximately 10 percent of the 637 million gallons of paint sold annually becomes leftover paint, equal to about 64 million gallons per year. Recycling keeps 64 million gallons of paint out of landfills or incinerators.
Unfortunately, sources in the same report estimate that it could cost around $500 million annually to manage all that paint. In reality, there are several options you should consider prior to recycling paint.
Recycling does have benefits:
- When recycled, latex paint can become a whole new product. It can be processed to make concrete, cement and other additives. It can be reprocessed into new paint, or it can be consolidated and reused. Anti-graffiti teams often use re-blended paint for covering clandestine paint jobs on public spaces
- Oil-based paint can be burned as fuel to produce energy. While this energy is beneficial, this is an expensive proposition.
- Paint cans are typically made of plastic, which may be recycled if all paint is removed. Check with your local recycling or HHW coordinator for more information.
Use Earth911 to find out where to recycle paint near you.