How to dispose of oil paint? (7 properties) 

This article will detail the right disposal methods and considerations regarding the disposal of oil paints. Other covered details will be: 

  • What are oil paints?
  • Why does the disposal of oil paints matter?
  • How can oil paints be disposed of?
  • What is the biodegradability status of oil paints?
  • Can oil paints be recycled?
  • FAQs

How to dispose of oil paint?

Oil paints are regarded as hazardous waste due to the presence of VOCs, synthetic polymers and pigments and therefore must be disposed of accordingly. 

Oil paints, owing to the presence of pigments made from crude oil and volatile organic compounds are regarded as non-biodegradable. Oil paints also can not be recycled nor composted.  

Oil paints have been in use since the 15th century. Oil paints are made of two essential components. Pigments and oil. The former is sourced from crude oil, while the latter is sourced from plant-based materials. 

What are oil paints? (7 properties)

The knowledge and introduction to what oil paint is is very important and decisive in knowing how to dispose of it rightly. 

Correct and appropriate disposal methods are the necessary bridge between the consumption of consumer products and their impacts on the environment and life. 

If consumer products are disposed of correctly, then it is insurance that their impacts will not be rendered on the environment or life. 

However, if consumer products are disposed of correctly, then chances are that this will cost environmental anomalies while effects on life also can not be ignored. 

Therefore, correct disposal methods and the knowledge of those methods are extremely important to ensure that the environment and our health are not exposed to any sort of risk or damage. 

Now reclining back to our main topic, this section will cover the basic introduction to what oil paints are. 

Oil paints are slow-drying paints that contain pigments suspended in drying oil. The most common drying oil used in oil paints is linseed oil, derived from flax plants. 

The pigments are mostly sourced from crude oil and thus are regarded as synthetic pigments. These pigments may degrade in about 30-40 years. 

Oil paints are usually confused with acrylic paints. However, there is a stark difference between the two. Oil paints contain pigments suspended in drying oil whereas acrylic paints make use of water-based pigments. 

In addition to drying oil, oil paints may also include a medium of animal fat or synthetic polymer. Oil paints must have the following properties:

  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to be mixed
  • Consistent
  • Texture
  • Premium quality 
  • Vibrant colours
  • Lightfast 

Owing to the properties and composition of oil paints, they offer a number of advantages that may be outdone as compared to other options available such as acrylic paints. 

Oil paints may be mixed in subtle combinations to portray the desired settings. Further, it is also possible to optimise and exploit the shades of light and dark by using different shades of oil paints. 

Oil paints mix well with each other and this lets artists fly wild with their imaginations and lets them translate their imagination vividly on black pieces of paper. 

Why does the disposal of oil paints matter?

Oil-based paints are considered hazardous. This means that if oil-based paints are not disposed of correctly, there can be negative consequences on the environment and life. 

Among these negative consequences, there are water pollution and effects on aquatic and marine animals. 

If oil paints are not disposed of correctly, then many aspects of nature will be put at risk. This is because hazardous waste damages the environment at various levels. 

For example, consider the example of damages caused by chemical waste. Chemical waste is mostly sourced from man-made activities. That is because most industrial and synthetic processes make use of various chemicals to achieve the functions and utilitarian aspects of the products. 

Chemicals are also employed to ensure that consumer products are durable while also being cost-efficient. 

However, these social and industrial benefits come at the cost of the environment. As a result, the waste that is produced from chemicals may leach into waterways and soil and cause a plethora of environmental problems. 

For example, there is a process called eutrophication. It is caused when chemicals from detergents and washing powders enter waterways. This leads to algal blooms and as a result, the oxygen reserves of the water body are depleted. 

This leads to an effect on the natural ecosystem leading to the disruption and deterioration of the natural habitat. This is reciprocated at many levels of the food chain. 

How can oil paints be disposed of?

Oil paints are regarded as hazardous chemical waste. There are certain considerations that must be kept in mind to ensure proper disposal of chemical waste such as oil paints. 

One of the measures that need to be mindful of is the consideration that chemical waste must never be mixed with other types of waste. The primary reason is that different wastes are dealt with in different ways based on their impact on the environment. 

For example, paper waste or rotten fruits are not that hazardous to the environment and therefore such is not dealt with that severity as is the case of chemical waste. 

If chemical waste is mixed with, let’s say, rotten fruits, then chances are life and the environment will be exposed to the negative, detrimental, and deteriorative effects of chemical waste. 

Another factor that one must be mindful of is the idea of proper labelling. Many waste management authorities deem it incumbent that chemical waste must be labelled properly so that it can be treated that way. 

Along with labels, required information such as the type of chemical waste or the date of production must also be provided so that waste management authorities may act accordingly and undergo the required precautions to make sure that chemical waste poses no harm to life or the environment. 

It already has been mentioned that chemical waste must not be mixed with other types of waste. Usually, there are three colours allocated to dustbins. Chemical waste must be disposed of in red coloured dustbins because it is very likely that chemical waste will be hazardous in nature. 

Another important consideration that one can not get oblivious of is that chemical waste must be stored and kept in safe containers. The containers must be made from durable materials, preferably plastics such as PP or LDPE because these containers will be resistant to chemicals. 

If chemical waste is not stored in apt containers then chances are that the waste will leach out into the environment or atmosphere and cause harm to the environment and life. 

What is the biodegradability status of oil paints?

Another factor that needs to be covered is the biodegradability status of oil paints. This is because the non-biodegradable waste will take a lot of time as compared to biodegradable waste.

Biodegradability can be defined as a process in which biological agents such as enzymes and microbes break down complex waste into simpler structures. The simpler structures are thus able to get back to the system. 

Every day you come across the process of biodegradation. The rotten vegetables that you dispose of or the spoiled fruits that you think can not be eaten. These are common, everyday examples of biodegradation. 

It is the very process of biodegradation that is responsible for the spoilage of food. It can be termed the necessary evil because on one side food is spoiled but on the other side, it is ensured that there is no waste accumulation. 

If there is waste accumulation, there will be environmental problems and anomalies because the waste will lead to problems such as pollution and human diseases. 

Other than microbes and enzymes, there are also external factors that play a key role in the process of biodegradation. These include sunlight, aeration et cetera. 

Based on biodegradability, waste may be divided into two categories. These are biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. 

Examples of biodegradable waste include crops, plants, dead animals, manure, sewage, bioplastics, and natural fabrics. These may degrade in some days or some months. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste may include synthetic plastics, epoxies, synthetic dyes, and synthetic fabrics like acrylic fabrics. These substances may remain in landfills for hundreds of years. 

It has been established from the literature that oil paints are not biodegradable and may require around 40 years to degrade. This adds another negative aspect to oil paints. 

Even though oil paints are made from plant-based oils, the presence of synthetic polymers, synthetic pigments (from crude oil)  and volatile organic compounds are what make oil paints non-biodegradable. 

Can oil paints be recycled?

Recycling can be defined as the reusing of consumer products by working on them. In this way, the products do not need to be made from scratch. 

You may wonder what is the importance or significance of recycling. It can be summed up in the following key points: 

  • Better resource management
  • Better waste management 
  • One of the best solutions to non-biodegradable waste
  • Water conservation
  • Decreased pressure on raw materials
  • Decreased consumption of energy (which is mostly non-renewable) 
  • Increased labour and employment prospects 
  • Reduced pollution and environmental anomalies 

However, it is argued that oil paints can not be recycled. This is mainly because oil paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOC). Another reason why oil paints are not recycled is the fact that they are considered hazardous. That is why they are not accepted by recycling centres.

Conclusion

It is concluded that oil paints are regarded as hazardous waste due to the presence of VOCs, synthetic polymers and pigments and therefore must be disposed of accordingly. 

Oil paints, owing to the presence of pigments made from crude oil and volatile organic compounds are regarded as non-biodegradable. Oil paints also can not be recycled nor composted.  

Oil paints have been in use since the 15th century. Oil paints are made of two essential components. Pigments and oil. The former is sourced from crude oil, while the latter is sourced from plant-based materials. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How to dispose of oil paint?

What category of waste oil paints falls into?

Oil paints are regarded as hazardous waste due to the presence of VOCs, synthetic polymers and pigments and therefore must be disposed of accordingly.

Can oil paints be composted?

Oil paints, owing to the presence of pigments made from crude oil and volatile organic compounds are regarded as non-biodegradable. Oil paints also can not be recycled nor composted. 

References

  • Izzo, F. C., Berg, K. J. V. D., Keulen, H. V., Ferriani, B., & Zendri, E. (2014). Modern oil paints–formulations, organic additives and degradation: some case studies. In Issues in contemporary oil paint (pp. 75-104). Springer, Cham.
  • Izzo, F. C. (2011). 20th century artists’ oil paints: a chemical-physical survey.
  • Bowers, L. M. R., & Sobeck, S. J. S. (2016). Impact of medium and ambient environment on the photodegradation of carmine in solution and paints. Dyes and Pigments, 127, 18-24.
  • Pandey, P., & Kiran, U. V. (2020). Degradation of paints and its microbial effect on health and environment. J. Crit. Rev., 7, 4879-84.
  • Dunmade, I. (2012). Recycle or dispose of? Lifecycle environmental sustainability assessment of paint recycling process. Resources and Environment, 2(6), 291-296.

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