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How to recycle paint & paint cans

Ideas for responsible disposal and re-use

It can be surprising how many different types, and colours, of paint we all use when decorating our homes. Even if you’ve chosen a neutral colour scheme, you can easily find yourself with three or four different types for each surface in your home. And once you’ve completed your decorating project it’s not uncommon to have some leftover, which most of us keep handy for touching up paintwork, or to use for another project.

However, these leftovers can often stack up and are only good to use for a few years before they dry out or discolour, all the while taking up space we don’t have in our homes and garages. It’s helpful to have a few ideas to hand to make sure that they don’t go to waste if you can’t use these up yourself.

If you have unopened cans, still have the receipt and purchased less than 135 days ago, you may be able to return the paint to B&Q for an exchange or refund. Check our Returns and Refunds page for more details.

It’s important to remember that although it’s safe to use paint in our homes, it can be damaging to the environment if it isn’t disposed of in the right way. Whether your paint cans are empty or still contain paint, follow our tips below to make sure that they are dealt with in the safest possible way.


The best place to start is by asking friends, family and neighbours if they would like your paint - it might be perfect for a small job. If you have larger quantities, try Freecycle or Freegle. These websites will help to put you in touch with other people in your local area who would like to use your leftovers.

There are also organisations who would love to re-use your paint. Community RePaint is a UK wide network of over 75 schemes who collect surplus and leftover paint and then make it available to individuals and families in social need and every form of community group and charity, so that they are able to re-use household paints for projects such as decorating community centres and creating colourful playground murals.

Community RePaint can put you in touch with a local scheme who can make use of your paint. At B&Q, we are supporting a pilot scheme in Cambridgeshire and North East London where Community RePaint are collecting cans from local household waste recycling centres for reuse – there are more details on Community RePaint’s website on which centres are involved.


If your paint is very old and unsuitable for re-use, or you are not able to find someone locally who can use it, you will need to make sure your paint is hardened before you dispose of it. Please remember that paint cannot be placed in your household waste bin and must not be poured down the drain where it can cause damage and blockages.

If you have a small amount of paint left, brush it on to scrap paper or cardboard and leave it to dry. Once dry, the paper or card can be placed in your household bin. If there is a larger amount of paint in the can (more than a few centimetres deep), add some dry soil, sand or sawdust to the can and leave to harden.

Next, take your paint cans to your nearest household waste recycling centre – your local council can let you know where this is. Here, plastic paint cans are disposed of responsibly and metal paint cans are sent for recycling.

At the moment, plastic paint cans can’t widely be recycled, however your local household waste recycling centre will accept these and make sure that they’re disposed of responsibly.

At B&Q, we currently support a pilot scheme to introduce recycling for these containers, so that hopefully all plastic paint pots can be recycled in the future. If you live in Cambridgeshire or North East London your household waste recycling centre will separate these cans out for inclusion in the trial.

The good news is that these can be recycled. Simply drop off your paint cans at your nearest household recycling centre. Check with your local authority for more details.

At B&Q, we are committed to helping our customers to enjoy better, more sustainable homes – find out more about our One Planet Home® programme.