Liquid paint is banned from disposal in the solid waste and sewer systems. Oil-based paints must be managed as a hazardous waste. Latex paints may be hazardous if they contain heavy metals or mercury-based fungicides, though most interior latex paints do not contain these materials.
Mercury-based fungicides have been banned from interior latex paints made since 1990, but this ban does not apply to exterior latex. Ask the paint manufacturer if leftover latex paint contains heavy metals or mercury based fungicides, or have the paint analyzed in a lab to determine whether or not it is hazardous.
Contact your county hazardous waste office for information on managing paint as a hazardous waste or to obtain disposal options for non-hazardous waste paint. Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) collection programs offer a valuable option for businesses and organizations to manage small quantities of hazardous waste, including paint.
More information is also available in the "Use of Retail Drop-Off Sites by Businesses" section of the Minnesota PaintCare website.
Metal paint cans may be recycled once they are empty and dry. Check with your local scrap metal dealer (see Scrap Metal Processors and Redemption Centers). For businesses that may recycle plastic paint containers, see Plastics and Drums & Pails.
Paint filters that contain metals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are sometimes hazardous waste. This can be determined in one of two ways:
Ask your paint manufacturer or supplier to certify in writing that the paints you are using will not leach any toxic metals (such as lead, barium, cadmium, chromium, etc.) above maximum allowable concentrations.
Have your used paint filter tested for metals and VOCs by an environmental testing laboratory using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). If the paint filter is hazardous, consult businesses listed in the Hazardous Waste Brokers, Transporters and Disposal Facilities directory. If the paint filter is non-hazardous, it may be managed as an Industrial Solid Waste.