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Paint Management
New Program Paints a Sunny Picture for the Future of Recycling

     In my last column, I discussed proper disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW)--commonly used household products that are banned from disposal landfills due to their potential to harm the environment and/or human health. One of the biggest sources of HHW is leftover paint and paint related products. This has been a major factor in the daunting costs of holding HHW events.

     The good news is that the State implemented a paint recycling program on October 19. The program, which will be funded by an assessment on new paint, is being managed by a non-profit organization formed by paint manufacturers called PaintCare, Inc. Mariposa County Solid Waste & Recycling hopes to be able participate in the near future. It has not yet been determined which types of paint related products will be accepted. Watch our website and the local media for announcements.

      Of course, as with all products, we encourage you to reduce your paint waste and use up any leftovers rather than recycling if you can. (Remember the hierarchy of the 3Rs of waste management-reduce, reuse, recycle). Here are some tips for self-management of paint use:


      Latex (water-based) paint is suitable for most projects. Unlike oil-based paint, it cleans up with  water and is non-flammable. It also contains smaller amounts of toxic chemicals.

      Oil-based paint is generally used for undercoats and primers and for special applications, such as floors and marine surfaces. It must be cleaned up with turpentine or mineral spirits.


     Paint often looks different on a large surface and under natural or incandescent light than it does on a paint chip in the store. It pays to buy a quart of your color choice and try it out before you purchase the full amount you will need for your project.


   You will save money and waste less paint by calculating the amount you will need beforehand. Use our handy paint calculator  for a more accurate estimate. 


      If there is a small amount of paint left in the can, use it for touch-ups or small projects, or paint it out on a board. Remove the lid from the can and let any remaining paint dry out. Throw the empty can away with your household trash. 


      You can keep leftover paint for years to use for touchups or small projects if it is properly stored. Learn how at


       You can use up leftover paint on small projects, combine it with other colors to make a larger quantity for use as a base coat, or, if you have an ample amount of a lighter color, take it back to the retailer and have it re-tinted.


        If you have a large amount of leftover paint there may be someone who can use it, such as   church groups or other organizations or friends and neighbors.


       If you must dispose of leftover paint, do not throw it in the Landfill. First, determine whether or not it is latex or oil-based. If it is latex and there is less than 1/2-inch in the can, you can let it air dry and then throw it in with your household waste. (It is illegal to dispose of flowing liquids in the Landfill.) You cannot do this with oil-based paints, paint thinners, mineral spirits and solvents, since they are flammable and emit dangerous vapors called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

     After using turpentine or brush cleaner, put it in a sealed container and leave it in a cool, safe place away from children and pets until the paint particles have settled to the bottom.  Pour the clear liquid into a clean, empty container that has a lid.  Air-dry the paint residue in a well-ventilated area. When it has dried completely, dispose of the container with the lid removed with your household trash.

    If, after doing all of the above, you still have leftover paint or paint related products, store it safely in a tightly sealed container away from children and pets and bring it to the Landfill for recycling when our PaintCare program begins.

    For more information about the PaintCare program go to the CalRecyclewebsite.

    Like us (Mariposa County Landfill & Recycling) on Facebook to see some incredible arts and crafts made from repurposed materials and get reminders about upcoming recycling programs

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PO Box 784 | 5100 Bullion St. | Mariposa, CA 95338