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Leading paint manufacturers have begun to label their paints in relation to the amount of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) they contain, this is partly driven by marketing and a desire to position themselves favourably towards consumer’s environmental concerns. The EU are also driving this agenda with an EU Directive on reducing emissions from this industry which has been gradually phased in since 2007, with all manufacturers now in full compliance (January 2010). This reduction in emissions also means that these products are less odorous which makes for more comfortable living during house decorating and DIY projects.

Tips for reducing waste paint and other paint products:

  • Research colour, type and quantity of paint carefully: large quantities of unused or barely used paints are brought to recycling centres every year. There are on-line “paint calculators” which will allow you to accurately calculate the amount of paint needed for a particular project. Taking time to calculate paint needs in advance of shopping may also save you money as many outlets do not offer a refund on paints.
  • Ask the retail assistant for advice or read the label carefully to ensure you are purchasing the right product for your DIY project.
  • Choose water based paints where possible as these are less hazardous. Product choices are widening and there are more “Eco-Friendly” paint options now available.
  • Use it up- if there is only a little paint left at the end of the project, try & finish it off rather than discarding the left over paint.
  • If you have enough paint left it is worthwhile to keep for touching up at a later date, ensure you store the paints correctly: tap the lid in place using a mallet rather than a hammer which will distort the lid, then store the can upside down. Use a marker to write on the base of each can for future identification: Date opened, colour, brand, and the room the paint is for.
  • If you have a lot of left over paint or unused paint, donate to a charity or check out your local civic amenity centre as many have paint reuse schemes.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 13/01/11