How to safely dispose of old and unused paint

With Paintback, DIYers across the country are now creating beautiful spaces while being kind to the environment

Bunnings magazine, March 2021

Environmentally conscious

Making a mess is all part of the D.I.Y. process, but we all want to protect the environment while prettying up our homes. If your old paint cans are going to landfill, or you’re wish-cycling them into the recycling bin – a definite no-no for many councils – you’ll be glad to know there’s a better way, and it doesn’t involve leaving old paint tins to languish in the shed.

Reduce and reuse

The first way to avoid wasting paint is to not buy more than you need. Measure up and use a paint calculator to make sure you’re not buying 10 litres for a four-litre job. If you’ve still got leftovers, don’t be afraid to get creative – use it to upcycle an old chair or give the dog’s kennel a new look! Whatever’s left in the tin, plus the tin itself, can be responsibly disposed of with Paintback.

Safely dispose unused paint
Wrap up your next D.I.Y. project by taking the leftover paint to Paintback.

Paint what?

Paintback is a scheme that collects unwanted paint and packaging, diverting it away from landfill and vital waterways. It was founded in 2016 by the Australian paint industry and major paint companies, who supply around 90 per cent of all architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

How does it work?

Old or unwanted paint containers are collected by Paintback with any leftover paint inside – this includes undercoats, primers, deck coatings, varnishes and more. The containers are recycled (when not contaminated) and turned into new packaging materials. The solvent paint is used as an alternative energy source, replacing fossil fuels in cement kilns. Water is separated from acrylic paint, with the by-product used in a variety of industrial applications. Paintback is also funding research to find new ways to recycle paint packaging and water-based paint, and to recover valuable ingredients. The aim is to ensure all paint and paint packaging in Australia will be reclaimed, recycled or converted into energy.

Safely dispose unused paint
Paintback can handle both empty and full tins, processing paint through various channels, including into energy.

Sign me up!

Use the Paintback website to locate the nearest collection point (there are over 155 of them throughout Australia), or check the website or Facebook page for mobile events near you. Simply take your old paint to the collection point, where they’ll be stored ready for Paintback to pick up. All the hard work is done for you and you become an awesome Paintbacker. Well done, you!

For a full list of collection points, mobile event locations and what paint is accepted, go to

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Photo Credit: Paintback and Getty Images

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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