Disposing painting waste
It is environmentally irresponsible (illegal too) to pour paint and paint contaminated water into the storm water drainage system. Washing of painting tools outdoors or rinsing them with the hose is even worse, as the contaminated water will enter the natural waterways and eventually pollute our beautiful lakes and rivers.
When water based paint waste enters the waterways
Paints contain solid pigments that can increase the turbidity of water. In addition to making the water “muddy” and unsightly, they can cause particles to clog the gills of fish, and restrict their ability to breathe. Increased turbidity can also block out sunlight and reduce photosynthesis in plants. Paints also contain several biodegradable substances. As they break down, they can reduce the oxygen level in the water making it difficult for fish and other organisms to survive.
When solvent based paint enters the waterways
Solvent based paint waste contains many organic solvents and compounds. These substances don’t mix well with water. When they eventually break down they deprive organisms of the oxygen they need to survive. Solvent paints can contain lead, mercury, zinc and chromium. These heavy metals can contaminate the sediment and poison the food chain. In addition, toxic ingredients in solvent based paints can cause tumors to be formed in fish and other water organisms.
Practices to follow when cleaning brushes and rollers (water based)
Transfer as much paint as possible back to the paint cans by squeezing the brush, or squeezing the paint out of the roller with a commonly available tool for that purpose. Before using the sink to wash them, give them a good wash in a container (5 gallon bucket is good). Re-use this water for the first wash the next few times and eventually let the solids accumulate at the bottom. Dispose as solid waste. Tip: Don’t wash your tools between coats. Use them for the first coat of the next colour and give them a slight wash before the final coat.
Practices to follow when cleaning brushes and rollers (solvent based) If you are using them for similar colours wrap them in plastic and freeze them until you need them again. If they are a very strong colour, don’t wash them as they require a big amount of paint thinner or turpentine. Let them dry and dispose of them as solid waste. If you need to clean them, transfer as much paint as possible back to the paint can first. Wash them in a container with a tight lid. Let solids collect at the bottom of the container and re-use the cleaner solvents from the top. Keep the lid on. If you follow this simple “re-cycling” system, you hardly ever have to buy mineral spirits and even save money. Tip: Paint brushes and rollers wrapped in plastic can keep fresh for days, left outside during the cold Toronto winter.
Contact your municipality for their solid waste disposal policies, when you need to dispose empty paint cans, dried up tools, paint, etc.