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Giving a room, deck, or dream renovation project a lick of paint is a transformative way to brighten up a living space. Once the perfect colour is picked and your arms are sore from painting, the question remains – what about the leftover paint? We want to help you do the right thing with your extras after a big paint job so that your leftover paint doesn’t end up just sitting around collecting dust or making its way into the landfill. This easy how-to-guide will give you our five expert paint tips on:

  • Buying the right amount paint,
  • Storing paint for future use,
  • Donating paint,
  • Recycling paint, and most importantly,
  • Where paint can be recycled!

So if you are ready to address the leaning tower of paint cans in your life, this ultimate guide will help you recycle paint in the most environmentally responsible way.

#1 Buy what you need, use what you buy
imagesWhile it might seem obvious, this is really the best solution to avoiding extra paint that needs to be recycled. When we reduce the amount of excess paint, less resources need to go into recycling paint afterwards. Think “Tom Cruise scaling a wall in Mission Impossible” strategic in buying no more than you need when approaching a paint job. If you need help knowing how much is needed per square footage there are a number resources available, such as online Paint Calculators , or you can even ask at your local paint retailer what they suggest.

#2 Store Paint for Future Use
Of course, even the best efforts to calculate the right amount can fall short. A small amount of paint can actually be advantageous for future touch-ups or using as a primer. To properly store paint, it’s all about creating a tight seal. Try pouring 1/8” (3mm) of solvent (better known as paint thinner) on top of oil-based paint, or 1/8” (3mm) of water on latex paint to seal the surface before securing the lid. You can also wrap plastic wrap over the opening, seal the lid, and store it upside down to create an airtight seal. This article also has some great tips for storing paint.

#3 Find Your Paint a New Home
If you find your storage for clunky paint cans is limited, explore other options for reusing paint. Who knows, there may be a friend, neighbour or community group who has a use for your paint. It is all about spreading the paint love! You can also use Product Care Recycling’s PaintShare program which offers free paint at participating collection sites across BC. Paint in good condition can be dropped off and picked up by someone else. Much like a dating service, but for paints.

#4 Take it to the Depot!
Sometimes the best solution is to recycle paint so that it can be recovered for better uses. With Product Care Recycling’s paint recycling program, there are over 200 collection sites across BC that will accept residential-grade types of paint.

Qualifying paints include any interior or exterior paint bought commercially, such as water-based paints (commonly known as latex or acrylic wall paint) and oil-based paint (like alkyds and enamels used for durable surface coatings). We also accept paint aerosols, deck and floor coatings, varnish, primers, undercoats, and wood finishing oils, etc. A full list of our accepted products can be found at And yes, contrary to popular myth, we will accept empty paint cans, lids, and even dried up paint (myth=busted!).

#5 So where can I find this wonderful place?
Paint recycling is often found at local recycling depots, bottle depots, transfer stations, or even paint retailers. We can’t forget that paint is a messy waste product and potentially hazardous to our environment if disposed improperly, so it is important know where the right collection facilities are located.
Don’t worry! They are easy to find, and free to use. First use our collection site locator to find your closest location using your postal code. When the right recycling depot catches your eye, just make sure the paint can or aerosol has its original or correct label, remains sealed, and is not leaking anywhere. You can also click here for detailed information on accepted products, or call your collection site ahead of time to double check if you have any questions.

There you have it! Follow these simple steps to dispose of paint in your life – at least until a new paint colour catches your eye…


Find a Recycling Location