California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Construction and Demolition Recycling

Recycled Latex Paint

Program News...

Introduction

As with any painting project, latex paint is often purchased in greater quantities than needed. Rather than dispose of the leftover paint, it can be reused or reprocessed to make a high-quality, economical, recycled paint for use in place of standard latex paint. For the latest information on recycled-content products (RCP), please visit the RCP database. For your nearest latex paint recycling centers, search CalRecycle's recycled-content building products database.

Why Use Recycled Paint?

Lower Cost. Recycled paint is often sold at lower prices than virgin paint of comparable quality.

Product Choices. What was once a one-color, limited-use product is now available in numerous grades, colors, and percentages of postconsumer content. Recycled latex paint can now meet a wide variety of specifications and can contain additives such as anti-mildew fungicides and color pigments that can be matched between batches. It is also available for metal surfaces and as primer. It can be sprayed, rolled, or brushed on, just as any other paint.

Disposal Problem. The average household stockpiles 1 to 3 gallons of waste paint per year, according to several studies. In California, unless latex paint is reused or recycled, it is considered a hazardous waste and must be disposed of in a Class I hazardous waste landfill.

Management of leftover paint, such as disposal and household hazardous waste (HHW) collection, is discussed in another fact sheet, Latex Paint: Hazards and Solution for Disposal.

Save on Disposal. Landfilling is an unnecessary expense because leftover paint, in most cases, is still a usable product. Purchasing recycled paint creates a market demand that helps build a convenient collection infrastructure.

Definitions

Recyclable. “Recyclable paint” is leftover usable latex paint that a customer delivers to a HHW or paint collection event, or directly to a paint manufacturer.

Consolidated or Reusable. “Consolidated” or “reusable paint” is paint collected and made available to consumers without modification of paint properties by a paint manufacturer.

Recycled. “Recycled paint” is recyclable paint that has been reprocessed by a paint manufacturer to meet specific performance specifications, as described below.

Reprocessing

“Recycled paint” is reprocessed or “remanufactured” by steps that usually include the following:

Filtering. Most paint as collected contains a small amount of filterable solids, so the paint must be filtered if it is to be applied by spraying.

Mixing with standard paint. Though some recycled paint is 100 percent recycled, most recycled paint is mixed with standard paint. The added new paint is usually white, which adds coloring flexibility. Most recycled latex paint is at least 50 percent recycled content; however, it is available in a wide range of other percentages as well.

Adding pigments. Pigments are added as needed to achieve particular shades.

Adjusting pH. New latex paint has a pH between 7.5 and 9.5. Paint tends to lower in pH during storage. Adding amines or ammonia can restore the pH.

Recycled Paint Study

A three-year study was conducted by California Polytechnic State University to evaluate recyclable and recycled latex paint. The study was done in conjunction with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

The study found that "a high quality recycled paint may be obtained by blending with virgin materials and by making adjustments in some of the paint properties-principally the viscosity and pH."

The study can be downloaded from the CalRecycle's online publications catalog. See Publications at the bottom of this page.

Top

State Purchasing

The Public Contract Code (PCC) section 12203 et seq. requires State agencies (including California State Universities) to ensure that at least 50 percent of the dollars spent on paint be spent on recycled paint with a recycled content consisting of at least 50 percent post-consumer paint. The Department of General Services (DGS) awarded a statewide contract for purchasing of recycled latex paint by any local government body or corporation empowered to expend public funds and State agencies. Visit the state list of contracts (search under classifications for 312115 and then look for “Paint, Recycled Latex”) to obtain information on the current recycled paint contracts.

Top

Publications

See CalRecycle's online Publications Catalog (Household Hazardous Waste section) for information on ordering or downloading the following CalRecycle publications about recycled paint.

Last updated: January 24, 2013
Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/ConDemo/
C&D Program Staff: condemo@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6489