Navigate Safe Paint Disposal with New Map of Drop-Off Locations
Kane County Recycling Coordinator Clair Ryan receives a steady stream of calls from residents who are cleaning or moving and need to dispose of old house paint and other household surface coatings.
The first piece of information Ryan needs to help callers is the type material they have. Is it a water-based product like latex paint, or is it oil-based? Oil-based house paint is not terribly popular anymore, but there are several oil-based enamels, stains, varnishes and lacquers. As with any other material, the primary ingredient determines how it should be disposed of or recycled.
The second question Ryan asks is how long the caller has to find a disposal option. Residents who aren't in any particular hurry might be able to save time and effort by attending a County event, such as the one on October 8 for document shredding, latex paint and aerosol collection. Residents in eligible areas with at least three weeks lead time may be able to use the County's no-fee household hazardous waste home collection program to dispose of their paint and coatings regardless of type.
However, many callers have a home closing on the horizon, so dropping their material off somewhere is the only feasible option. With drop-offs, the paint type almost always matters, since some locations only take water-based paint (latex), some only take hazardous paints (oil-based and spray paint), and some only take spray paint due to site constraints. To help demystify this, Ryan compiled information about paint drop-off locations in and near Kane County onto a new map, which can be found on the updated paint recycling webpage. Many of these collection programs are new or newly revived after stopping during the pandemic. All of the latex paint recycling programs listed charge per-can fees to help offset the considerable cost of turning old latex paint into a new, usable product. It isn't easy being green, and in this case, it's going to cost some green.
Residents who can't recycle for whatever reason may legally dispose of latex paint in the trash. Containers should be left outdoors during good weather for a few days to dry out any residual paint. Adding an absorbent material such as cat litter, sawdust or shredded paper can speed the process. Once all paint is dried, the cans can go into trash bins a few at a time with lids off.
The new map includes locations that accept spray paint and other oil-based paints, primers, varnishes, enamels and lacquers. Spray paint and other oil-based materials are household hazardous wastes and need to be disposed of very carefully. They should always go to the appropriate drop off or through a HHW home collection program, and should not be thrown in regular trash or curbside recycling. Have a can of mystery paint? Look for information about flammability on the can. Oil-based products are flammable and will have a warning on the can, while latex and other water-based paints are not.