St. Clair County Resource Recovery Office

Latex & Oil-Based Paint

Paint contains solvents and metals that are poisonous to humans and the environment. When paint is disposed of improperly (in the trash, down a drain, or on the ground), these chemicals can contaminate St. Clair County's environment. For this reason, many trash collections won't pick up cans of paint.

This fact sheet provides instructions for household paint disposal. The St. Clair County Resource Recovery Office also has fact sheets on how to dispose of other common types of household hazardous waste:

· Adhesives
· Aerosol Containers
· Antifreeze
· Cleaners, Medications
· Gasoline
· Paint
· Solvents
· Wood Preservatives

For more information on household hazardous wastes and collection programs:
St. Clair County Resource Recovery Office
(810) 985-2443

Paint stays in good condition for a long time; oil-based paint for up to 15 years and latex paint for 10 years. As a general rule, paint that mixes smoothly when stirred can till be used. If latex paint has been frozen, brush it on a newspaper. If there are no lumps, it hasn't been damaged and can be used.

The best thing to do with usable paint is to use it up! If you can't use your leftover paint, give it to someone who can. Give your paint to:

· Friends and neighbors
· Community service organizations
· Recreation departments
· Theater groups
· Parks
· Consignment shops

Although it may not be listed on paint labels, some latex point contains mercury, a toxic metal. New regulations prohibit the use if mercury in interior latex paint manufactured after August 20, 1990. In addition, exterior latex paint must be labeled if it contains this metal. However, because you can't be sure whether latex paint purchased in 1990 and before contains mercury, be sure to use this latex paint only on outside projects.

DISPOSAL: When you can't use it up.
Proper disposal depends on the type of paint you have-latex or oil-based. Oil-based paint contains solvents, container labels state "combustible", and the instructions on the can recommend cleanup with mineral spirits or other solvents. Oil-based may be brought into the Hazardous Waste Collection Center. Latex paint contains water, and the instructions recommend cleanup with water. Unused latex paint can be disposed of after it is dried up. To dry up latex paint, you can use kitty litter, sawdust, or sand. Once it is dried up, it can go out with your regular household trash. Make sure all lids are left off.

Contact Information

Environmental Services Department
6779 Smiths Creek Road
Smiths Creek, MI 48074

Phone: Smiths Creek Landfill (810) 985-2443
Household Hazardous Waste     (810) 985-2443
Recycling (810) 985-2443
Fax: (810) 367-3062
Email: Environmental Services
Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Solid Waste & Recycling Status: 

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