Painting operations generate waste in three areas: (1) VOCs, which come from the solvent in the paint, are emitted into the atmosphere, (2) Paint "overspray" which results from using spray equipment with low transfer efficiencies or poor operator technique, (3) Solvents used in cleanup operations. Following the above DOs and DON'Ts should significantly reduce these wastes, reduce your cost and help the environment.

  • consider using High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) spray guns. HVLP spraying is usually the most cost effective method
  • ensure paint operators are well trained and kept current in new painting techniques. Join a professional trade association that provides information about improved painting methods and new paints.
  • use paint and solvents with the lowest possible Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) content. Limit your use of thinner to the maximum extend possible. Avoid paints containing metals, if possible. Work with your paint vendor to identify such paints.
  • change paint filters before they become clogged. Consider using reusable filters, and crushing filters to reduce waste volume.
  • practice good inventory control; buy only enough paint to complete the job. Do keep all paint and solvent containers closed when not in use to minimize evaporation. Schedule jobs so as to reduce the number of color changes. Schedule light colors before dark colors.
  • use teflon coated cans for mixing paint. This reduces the amount of solvent needed for cleanup.
  • use a single solvent for cleanup and paint thinning, if possible. Use the cleaning solvent the maximum number of times before disposing. Consider purchasing a distillation unit.
  • consider purchasing/leasing a spray gun parts washer; spray gun washers can reduce solvent use by at least 75%
  • use an industrial rag service
  • discharge any paint, solvent, and paint cleanup wash water into septic tank, sanitary sewer, storm drains, surface water or ground surface
  • dispose of paint filters as a solid waste (put into dumpster) without first testing for hazardous waste, if you are using paints with metal content
  • evaporate waste paint into solvent
  • clean spray gun by spraying into air

For more information concerning the proper handling of paint, contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste ( or the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management ( This information is offered only as guidance. Specific requirements may vary with individual processes and/or businesses.