Paint recycling program growing quickly in Chelan County

(Photo: Aaron Johnson, hazardous waste lead technician for Chelan County, shows one of the packed bins of paint that will be shipped out of the county's Moderate Risk Waste Facility for recycling or safe disposal.)


Move over motor oil – latex paint is now the most popular item dropped off at the Chelan County Moderate Risk Waste Facility.

And it’s only been just over a month since the facility joined PaintCare, the program that oversees Washington’s statewide paint recycling program.

“We started accepting latex paint from the public in late June and have averaged 77 gallons a day,” said Aaron Johnson, hazardous waste lead technician for Chelan County. “We’ve also given out 60 gallons of paint through our reuse program.”

From June 21 through Aug. 2, the facility was open 27 days for public drop-off of household hazardous wastes. In that time, staff collected 10,581 pounds of latex paint (about 1,500 gallons) and 3,714 pounds of oil-based paints (about 500 gallons).

In comparison, residents dropped off 19,692 pounds of used motor oil in all of 2021.

The addition of latex paint – and its large quantities – means the contractor hired to pick up and safely dispose of household hazardous wastes collected in Chelan County is now making two trips a month to the local facility. In the past, the contractor was visiting once every couple of months.

Just what will happen to all this paint collected?

In its 2021 annual report, PaintCare reported that 88 percent of the latex paint it collects around the state is sorted, blended and sometimes re-tinted into recycled latex paint for local use or domestic or international sale. Dry or solidified latex paint – about 11 percent of the paint collected – must be disposed of in a landfill. The remaining 1 percent is sold or given away without any alteration of its contents, according to the report.

For oil-based paint, about 64 percent is processed for energy recovery at a waste-to-energy facility or a cement kiln, 35 percent is incinerated and 2 percent is sold or given away in its original container, according to the annual report.

“By using our facility, Chelan County residents are doing their part to keep paint out of our landfills,” said Brenda Blanchfield, manager of the Chelan County Solid Waste program. “I would encourage everyone to not only bring in their latex paint but also those other household hazardous materials they have stored in their basements and garages.”

Dropping latex paint off at the Moderate Risk Waste Facility is a free service to Chelan County residents. If you plan on dropping off paint, follow these guidelines:

  • Visitors are limited to 55 gallons per visit, and the paint must be in containers no larger than 5 gallons.
  • The facility will take old cans as well as paint that has solidified in the can. Residents also can dispose of any solidified paint in their household garbage.
  • The facility accepts latex paint from only Chelan County households. Businesses can continue to take latex paint to a nearby Rodda Paint or Sherwin Williams, or dispose of it at a future small quantity generator event, which are typically held annually in Chelan County and posted to its website.
  • If usable paint comes in, it will be set aside in the free re-use program. Visitors should check out the re-use cart to take home any latex paint they can use in their own projects.

The Chelan County Moderate Risk Waste Facility is open for drop off of household hazardous wastes 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and then 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the first Saturday of the month. The facility is located at 3612 Highway 97A in Wenatchee. For a list of wastes that can be dropped off, go to the MRWF webpage.

Last Updated: 10/26/2022 12:52 PM

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