Starting a new decorating project can be exciting. Planning the room, choosing your colours and adding your touch to a space. But what happens when you finish your project and you still have leftover paint?

With the average household in the UK storing away 17 tins of leftover paint, what happens to all when it is eventually thrown away? In this article, we will look at how leftover paint is currently dealt with and what the solutions are.

What currently happens when you dispose of paint?

Due to the ‘liquid to landfill’ ban, many household waste recycling centres do not accept liquid paint. They require it to be dried out, usually by adding soil or sawdust to the paint tin. This prevents it from leaking and causing harm to the surrounding environment.

A member of staff at Community RePaint Cambridgeshire is dressed in work overalls covered in paint splashes, and wearing protective googles, and protective gloves. The staff member is taking a tin of recycled Dulux paint out of a storage trolley.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of information on correct disposal, paint still ends up in general waste and even worst, down the drain. This causes huge issues with waste contamination, drain blockages and leads to chemicals leaking into the environment, harming ecosystems and aquatic life. With more than 50 million litres of paint wasted a year, and most of it sent for incineration – this is a huge problem.


leftover paint
Current paint life cycle


What solutions are there?

Paint Reuse – This option involves creating drop-off points where manufacturers, businesses and households can take their paint once they have finished with it. This paint can then be collected and redistributed and reused within the community.

Community using leftover paint

Paint remanufacturing – In short, leftover paint is collected, filtered and remanufactured into new paint. Find out more about the remanufacturing process in our recent story here. Reusing and remanufacturing paint allows usable leftover paint to avoid the current waste stream. Below is a diagram of how Community RePaint reuses and remanufactured leftover paint to create a circular economy of paint.

circular economy of paint


Community RePaint schemes across the country accept usable leftover paint from manufacturers and businesses. They also collect from household waste recycling centres, where householders are able to drop off their leftover paint. This paint is then checked, and either redistributed for reuse or can be remanufactured into new branded containers.

To get involved, you can see if you have a local drop-off point here. You can also check if you have a local Community RePaint scheme to buy affordable usable leftover paint here.

If you do not have a drop-off point, let your local authority know you want a drop-off point to recycle leftover paint with this template letter.

Want to join the network? Find out how you can get involved and help stop usable leftover paint from being wasted here.


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