If you have ever committed to painting a room in your house, you know how much work it is. There are endless trips to the home improvement store, comparing paint swatches, fielding unwelcomed family opinions, taping the edges of the room, and laying down the plastic. Oh and you can’t forget the edging. However, in the end, it’s usually worth it when you step back and take in a new color. It can change the feeling and look of the room.
As fantastic as this feeling is, it is often accompanied by exhaustion when you think about the clean up. This begs the question, “What do you do with all this leftover paint?” There are plenty of things to do with the leftover color, such as keeping the can for touch ups, reusing it for another project around the house, or donating it to a friend who admires the color. If these are not feasible and you would really like to get rid of the paint, remember leftover paint is considered household hazardous waste (HHW).
HHW should not be thrown in the garbage; it has to be disposed of properly in order to maintain the health of your community and environment. Many HHW items can be recycled or reused, rather than thrown in a landfill. In fact, I learned that paint is a HHW item that can be reused as a fuel for cement kilns.
I recently stopped by Hazman, a hazardous waste drop-off center in Tonawanda, to learn what happens to dropped off paint. The actual paint is poured off into large drums that are sent to companies, such as Hukill Environmental Services in Canton, Ohio. This paint is then mixed with other hazardous liquids, sludges and solids, and heated to create an energy value equivalent to burning coal or natural gas. Additionally, the metal paint cans become recyclable scrap metal.
Paint isn’t the only HHW that is probably in your house right now. Here is a list of some of the common household items that need to be disposed of through hazardous waste collection programs:
- Waste oil from cars The oil can be cleaned, recycled and reused in cars again.
- Batteries They are disassembled and recycled by parts while the chemicals are neutralized or converted for other uses such as laundry detergent.
- Antifreeze, latex or herbicides These items are sent to Covanta Energy in Niagara Falls, to be burned for energy.
- Aerosols The gas is either collected or combusted, then the can is recycled.
- Electronics These itmes are disassembled and recycled based on material (plastic, medal and rubber).