Recycling & Waste Management

Paint Cans

Paint & Paint Cans

The general term "paint" can be used to describe oil-based paint, latex paint and/or paint related material. Paint related materials include inks, dyes, solvents and thinners as well as epoxy, rubber cement, glues, adhesives, furniture strippers and more. These materials can contain solvents and should be handled with care, including paint thinners, spot removers, furniture strippers, glues, and nail polish removers.

Waste paint is primarily generated by Physical Plant staff through general maintenance and renovation projects. However, art supplies and paint wastes are also generated by students through the Art Department or student club projects.


Waste paint and art supplies should not be tossed in the regular UVM trash. Paints and art supplies should be set aside for collection and disposal by UVM Environmental Safety.They are regulated waste under the hazardous waste rules of the State of Vermont.

Many of these materials can enter the body by breathing (inhalation) solvent fumes or even directly through the skin (absorption). Eyes are often sensitive to solvents and their vapors.

Oil-based coatings contain resins, solvents, pigments, and additives. Coatings, such as these, are harmful to the environment because they contain petroleum distillates and pigments. Water-based (latex) paint is less harmful to the environment and your health than oil-based paint, and should be used as a substitute whenever possible.  Technological improvements to water-based paints have greatly increased their durability and protection of surfaces.

Proper Disposal at UVM

All oil-based paints and cans must be collected for disposal by UVM Environmental Safety.  

For latex paint (non-oil based),  if there is less than 1/2 inch of  paint remaining in a can, this small film can be left in an opened can to dry out.Once the paint is hardened, discard the empty can with the lid detached. (These materials can go in the scrap metal program.) Otherwise, the cans must be collected for disposal by UVM Environmental Safety. 

Rinsing Brushes and Sprayers

If you wash latex, or other non-hazardous paint, from brushes and sprayers, do not let that rinse water flow across the ground, into the stormwater system or into surface water streams or ditches. This rinse water can go into the sanitary sewer system or through appropriate ground filters on flat areas (rock or gravel). Liquid paint cannot be disposed of this way, only rinse water from cleaning paint brushes and equipment.

Oil paint, paint thinners and other hazardous materials are not allowed in any drain and must be collected (including the rinse) for disposal through ESF. Only rinse water from latex (and other non-hazardous paints) can go into the sanitary sewer system. Neither of the rinse is allowed in the stormwater system outside.

Final Disposal by ESF

All paint wastes are collected by Environmental Safety. Paint cans are then "labpacked" into 55-gallon metal drums, and sorted at a later date into oil-based and latex categories. Paint related containers of one-pint or less (including 8 oz. cans, tubes, inks, glues and adhesives) are labpacked into drums of “Non-Bulkable Paint Related Material." Paint related waste generated in Art classes should be set aside at the end of each semester and collected by Environmental Safety staff for proper hazardous waste disposal.

Solvents on rags and paper towels from Printmaking Shop are disposed of as a "flammable solid." They are collected in plastic lined fireproof cans and sent our for incineration by Environmental Safety.

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Last modified April 06 2011 02:37 PM

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