Can You Recycle Paint Cans?


Nothing compares to the joy of having a lovely interior decoration in homes. It is one of those things that make the home homely and make visitors comfortable. Different households have different preferences.

For some, they prefer to have the interior decoration flooded with loads of artwork. You can easily mistake such houses for a museum. Often, these artworks resonate with their cultural background.

Some others prefer the kind of decoration that accompanies a wedding ceremony and all its frenzy: the balloons, the differently styled multicolored materials and a touch of well-carved sculpture.

However, as beautiful as the above are, they don’t come close to an indoor painting’s beauty. Painting as a choice of interior decoration for many, including you, is non-negotiable. But with this choice comes a little worry.

Paint cans are a source of worry for many—especially those seeking to manage space in their homes or workplaces. Although paint cans come in different sizes and colors, after using their content, they all belong to one category—recyclables.

So, if you’re still in doubt if you can recycle paint cans, the answer is in the affirmative. Yes, you can.

Are Paint Cans Recyclable?

Once again, Yes. Paint cans are recyclable. Yet, you can’t do this anyhow. There are ways to go about it. But not to worry, we will show you how to do it right.

Most paint cans are made of steel. And as you already know, steels are one of the frequently recycled substances. Many factors contribute to this.

Steels are mostly recycled because at its recycled state, it can be put to use again. Also, when steel is melted, it doesn’t degrade in quality. Many substances would ordinarily become condemned once melted.

Recyclist generally, private and the government established, prefer to recycle materials made of steels. Thus, paint cans are not hard to be received for recycling. Their preference is not out of place.

Unlike the original manufacturing process, recycling steel requires little or no energy. Besides established organizations involved in recycling, random individuals in this business also prefer steel materials.

When recycled, steel paint cans can also be a source of numerous building materials or new cans made from it, to mention a few.

All these make recycling paint cans a convenient choice to make. Nevertheless, you also have a role to play in ensuring a successful recycling process.

Your primary role is to clear out the paint cans before turning them in for recycling. We know you can’t wait to dispose of them but, take some time to clear out paint residues.

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Doing this is beneficial to the environment. When paint cans are recycled with paint residues in them, the emission is toxic. In the same vein, paint residues left in your paint cans can make recycling difficult, if not impossible.

Therefore, you must ensure the painters exhausted the contents of the paint cans you’re submitting for recycling. This is not just environmentally friendly; it also saves you some money.

Another thing that calls for caution is recycling Paint cans with other wastes. The recycling companies already know this, but you probably don’t. If you opt to recycle yourself, always remember to separate paint cans from other wastes.

Can You Recycle Plastic Paint Cans?

Humans love variety, and manufacturers wouldn’t give anything less. This explains why the same contents are produced with different containers or different sizes or colors.

While it is easy to explain why paints exist in various colors, you’re probably wondering if plastic paint cans can be recycled. The answer is a loud yes. Plastic paint cans can be recycled just like steel paint cans.

Contrary to some beliefs that plastics are hard to recycle, it is easier to recycle and less expensive. When plastic paint cans are presented to a recycling company or local authorities, they’re hardly turned down.

This is partly because plastics don’t decompose quickly. As such, recycling or putting paint plastic cans to alternative use is non-negotiable. It is estimated that an average plastic may not decompose till some five hundred years later.

Hence, the best thing you can do to your empty plastic paint cans is to recycle it.

Can I Put Empty Paint Cans In The Bin?

The bin is the house for all kinds of household wastes. No doubt, it is where you first consider dumping whatever inconveniences you. And since paint cans could eat up your space and delay-free movement, you consider dumping it in the bin.

Before you go ahead, read this: Paints are not meant for the bin. Waste bins, garbage bins or whatever you choose to call it should not contain your paint cans. This is irrespective of it being clean, thoroughly or otherwise.

Paint cans are better dumped at a recycling depot. The beautiful thing about this option is that you don’t incur any cost. All you have to do is, label the cans well and indicate if they are leaking or not.

The consequence of not complying is grave on the environment. For instance, if paint cans are dumped in a garbage bin, it is picked up by the rubbish truck. When this happens, the little chemicals in the paint cans contaminate the ground.

It is also essential you’re aware that paint residues are not to be shoved down the drain. That also portends excellent harm and danger to the environment and human health and well-being.

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Many don’t know that whenever they shove down the drain, paint or any chemical substance, it contaminates the watercourse. The specific non-chemical substance also causes similar harm.

For accurate information on where to dump your paint cans, check with your local authorities.

How To Dispose of Paint Cans?

Now that you know you can’t dump your paint cans in the garbage bin, we guess you’re worried about the way forward. Just so you know, with us, there’s always a solution.

Remember the steps we outlined you must adhere to in taking personal responsibility? It applies here as well. You’re to ensure your paint cans are devoid of Paints residue.

These residues include the liquid paints and the little ones that have found their way to be attached to the cans’ sides. You have to be meticulous in doing this. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s more than routine cleaning.

1. Send It Out For Recycling

You can always send your paint cans out for recycling. Below, you will find what to do for this to happen.

  • The first thing you need to do is to ensure the cans are completely emptied of paints. To ensure this, you could remove the cans’ lids and expose them to sunlight to dry up.
  • After ticking this box, your paint cans are fit to be sent over to recycling companies. So, you could begin to figure which recycling company is within your reach and ready to receive paint cans.
  • In case you’re bothered about how to locate a recycling company within your area, kindly check online. We’re sure there’s at least one closer to you than you think.

2. Drop It Off At Non-recycling Centers

In any event, you could not find a recycling company ready to receive your paint cans, there’s yet an option. You could check for non-recycling companies that receive waste for reuse.

For example, many automobile companies accept metal scraps and reuse them in making automobiles. Also, you can adopt a temporary disposal method. This means you will dump your paint cans after thoroughly cleaned with other wastes in the garbage bin tentatively. Once the recycling company approves you to bring your paint cans, you then take them out.

3. Gift A Friend

Another way to dispose of your paint cans is to gift a friend. We know it doesn’t look like the regular gift but it’s an option. Creative friends or colleagues that can convert paint cans to hanging planters will appreciate it.

4. Dispose of at a Dumpsite

Lastly, you can dispose of your paint cans at your area’s designated dumpsites for toxic waste. This seems to be a perfect option since the dumpsite is often closer than a recycling company. These designated sites where hazardous substances are dropped is usually thoroughly managed by local authorities. As such, it poses little or no threat to the environment.

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5 Great Ways to Reuse Empty Paint Cans

There’s no limit to what you can use an empty paint can to do. Your only limitation is your imagination. This is profound and true, taking into account the host of available creative use of paint cans.

However, before we proceed, we must reiterate that paint cans are toxic when not thoroughly cleaned. It poses a significant health risk to your health, your relative and your immediate environment.

Let’s look at a few of the numerous ways to reuse empty paint cans.

1. Make a lantern

Lanterns seem small and easy to make, but it will take more than comfortable to convert empty paint cans to lanterns. Outdoor or indoor lanterns made of paint cans demands rare creativity.

Different colors of paint cans could be brought together and sized into preferred shape or size. After that, the candlelit and place inside. The aftermath will be lit candles glowing many colors—a perfect patio party setting.

2. Make a planter

You could make something desirable from the undesirable tons of empty paint cans in your house. Planters with flowers inside it made of paint cans can be placed at strategic areas in your compound.

Similarly, if you want to grow a medicinal herb of little portion, planters made of empty paint cans, steel would be a good suggestion.

3. Improvised water can

You know most Water can for wetting farm goods are steel, right? You can creatively convert one of your steel empty paint cans to a watering can.

This will serve two purposes. One, relieve you of some abandoned steel occupying space in your house. Also, it helps you to save the cost of purchasing a new one.

4. Make storage

We have to reiterate, ensure your empty paint cans are neat and devoid of paint residues. If this is the case, then you can use your old paint cans for storage.

The storage used may range from storing your cat’s food or your rabbit’s feeds in a sealed can to prevent rodent infestation. You might also consider storing your consumable grains like maize inside it after harvest.

5. Utilize for house chores

An empty paint can be converted to a large or small bucket, depending on its size, for washing or cleaning your house floor or scrubbing the toilet floor.

Other creative uses of empty paint cans are: coat hooks, lid mirrors etc.


You can only make the beauty of your paintings last if you deal properly with the paint tins. You can’t have them scattered around the house. You have to take steps to care for them.  Above, we have provided things to do for this to happen. Follow them and put a smile on your face.


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