Are You Properly Disposing You​​r Paint Waste?

Handling Paint Waste from Your Business 

Are You Properly Disposing You​​r Paint Waste? Throwing empty paint cans, leftover paint, and paint-related rags in the trash are not an acceptable solution. Thus potentially resulting in a violation that could be quite costly to your shop if fined by the EPA. As a result, auto collision repair shops and refinishers handling paint should be aware of the environmental guidelines regarding paint-related waste. 

Often businesses use their solvent only once before disposing of it, as a result solvent becomes a high cost item to the bottom line. Here is some advice that will help extend the life of your solvents used in your shop: 

Empty Cans & Containers

Paint, paint solvent, thinner and other materials left in cans are considered hazardous waste unless the containers are considered “RCRA empty.” Only when proper procedures are used (i.e. pouring or pumping) are the cans and containers considered to be RCRA empty. Below are other requirements:

  • less than one inch of residue remains on the bottom, OR 
  • no more than 3% by weight of the total capacity of the container remains in the container. If the container is less than or equal to 100 gallons, OR 
  • not more than 0.3 percent by weight of the total capacity of the container remains in the container if the container is greater than 110 gallons. 

Paint Booth Filters 

You will need to determine if your paint booth filters are hazardous. Filters that contain paint with heavy metal pigments (e.g., lead, chromium, cadmium, etc.) may be hazardous. This depending on the level of metals present. 

Depending upon the types of paint used at your shop, paint filters have a good chance of being a nonhazardous waste. Therefore, not cleaning and emptying paint spray guns into filters will help keep them from becoming classified as hazardous waste.

If your filters are nonhazardous you can dispose of them as solid waste. That said, be aware that your local solid waste landfill may ask you to document to them that the filters are nonhazardous. 


Industrial wastewater from painting can be generated from cleaning brushes, sprayers and other equipment or from operating a spray booth. If you are power washing equipment or structures prior to painting, this is also considered industrial wastewater. It is NOT permissible to discharge industrial wastewater on the ground, into storm sewers or into on-site septic systems. 

Finding Solutions!

BECCA Inc offers many affordable options to dealing with waste within the automotive refinish area. Whether our Spray Gun Cleaning machines, Solvent Saver Recovery Systems, and our Consumables, BECCA has solutions.