HWTR Dangerous Materials

My Watershed

Paint and Coatings as Waste

Solvent-based paint wastes must typically be managed as dangerous wastes. These include thinners, clean-up solvents, waste paints, and some paint booth filters. Some waterborne coatings may also designate as dangerous waste. Containers for these wastes must be kept closed when not in use. They must be stored, counted, labeled, and reported according to dangerous waste requirements.

Paint Booth Filters can be dangerous waste.

Here is a list of tips that may be useful in your painting or coating facility:

  • Buy only as much paint as you need.
  • Mix and use the least amount of coating possible. Don't get in the habit of mixing a standard amount of paint for every job (1 quart, 1 pint, etc.). Mix only what you will use.
  • Give leftover paint to customers for touch-ups.
  • Return unused paint to the manufacturer if it is not past the expiration date. It may be possible to sell it through an industrial materials exchange service, as well.
  • If possible, reduce the number of different coatings and colors you use.
  • Use water-borne primers and stay informed about new developments in water-based top coats.
  • Use optimum gun settings and spray tips for each job.
  • Where possible, choose thin coatings using heat rather than solvents.
  • Use disposable liners for paint containers and spray gun cups. Disposing of liners creates less waste than disposing of rinsing material.
  • Schedule jobs in batches to reduce number of cleanups.

Spray-paint transfer-efficiency trainings can save paint and money. Operator technique causes spray gun efficiency to vary up to 50 percent and affects the quality of your product. Training and experience makes more of a difference than just the type of equipment used.

The Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) coordinates STAR® transfer-efficiency trainings for businesses and technical training institutions in Washington state.  Contact Project Manager Ken Grimm at PPRC, (206) 352-2050 or by email.

The Iowa Waste Reduction Center developed the STAR® system, and offers information on the program, including an online training module and the LaserPaint training aid.

 Related information

Paint Wastes  links to a section in the Dangerous Waste Shop Guide, an Ecology publication

IMEX, Industrial Materials Exchange is a clearinghouse for excess materials.