Paint requires special disposal practices. These products must never be poured down storm drains, drains, the household sink (especially if you have a septic tank) or onto the ground. Paints can be recycled see below for more information.

This article on Paint and Waterways Pollution has some useful suggestions for cleaning up after your painting session.


Paint for interior and exterior projects, thinners, turpentine, mineral spirits and solvents. 

Standard household paints are typically a smooth blend of toxic chemicals: including pigment (the colour) carried by a resin and/or binder, a solvent to help the paint application, and a dryer. In vinyl and acrylic paints they will also include plastics compounds. Some will include formaldehyde, arsenic, thinners, and foamers.

This article by the Ministry for the Environment highlights some issues and lists some useful resources and information as well.


To reduce paint waste, only buy what you need. Carefully measure the area to paint and use the coverage recommendations on the paint label or seek advice from your paint supplier.

There are alternatives to using paint: use an oil or wax to bring out the natural colours of timber; look for natural or eco-paints that are non-toxic.

For interior use: decorative and easy to remove wall-stickers, place a folding screen in front of a blank wall to add colour and focus, hang up fabric or wallpaper panels.


Keep leftover paint for touch-ups and small projects.

Add another coat to your paint finish for extra protection.

Use for creating signs and banners.

Store it, as paint can last for years: cover with plastic wrap, place lid on securely and store upside down (out of reach from children).

Empty paint cans can be reused as plant pots. Paint pails can be used as weed or rubbish buckets.


Resene Colourshop cnr Ridgway and Wilson Streets is part of the Resene Paintwise programme. If you have leftover paint, Resene will take it back for recycling any time. Paint cans/pails need to be in good condition and labelled correctly according to their contents as the type of paint - solvent-based or acrylic - needs to be identifiable. (Paint spray cans are not accepted.)

Resene charges a small fee to recycle paint brands other than its own.

People wanting paint for community or charitable purposes (e.g. murals, graffiti-covering, education) can fill out an application form in-store.

Guthrie Bowron accepts paint tins and pales which are clearly labelled and in good condition for recycling.


If you do not have access to reuse or recycling options, register to dispose of unwanted paint, thinners, solvents and turpentine on an hazardous waste collection day.