Exact regulations vary based on location and the type of paint, but all paint waste can be safely and legally disposed of at a recycling facility. Latex-based paint can also be disposed of with regular garbage, but oil paints must be taken to a licensed facility.
States such as California, Oregon and Connecticut operate paint recycling programs. These programs accept most modern paints intended for architectural use. They do not accept aerosol cans, glues, tar-based products or nonarchitectural paints. Nonarchitectural paints include auto paint, arts and crafts paints, and road-marking paints.
To make nonhazardous paint waste easier to dispose of, mix it with an absorbent substance such as kitty litter. The resulting mix can be thrown away with other garbage, and the paint cans can be recycled. Do not use this disposal method for hazardous waste such as oil paints. Oil-based paint waste must be taken to a state-run program or licensed disposal facility.
Older lead-based paints are also classified as hazardous waste, and their disposal is even more restricted than that of oil paint waste. Only specially licensed professionals may remove lead paint from an existing structure. To dispose of lead-based paints, contact state or local environmental authorities to find a licensed professional.