Waste Disposal for Artists

Many art products contain hazardous ingredients. Examples of these hazardous products include pigments that contain toxic metals, flammable solvents and corrosive acids. Properly disposing of your waste keeps it out of the environment. Follow these tips to safely dispose of your waste.

Disposing of Art Chemical Containers

  • Try to use all the product before disposing of the container. Dispose of empty containers in the trash. The container is considered empty when no more than 1 inch or 3% of the container volume remains.
  • Containers with the words Danger, Warning, Caution or Poison on the label are hazardous products and should be managed as hazardous waste when no longer useful. 
  • Artists working in home-based studios may be able to deliver their waste to their county’s household hazardous waste collection program. To find a collection program near you, do a web search with the name of your city and the words “household hazardous waste.”
  • Commercial artists will typically need to have their hazardous waste collected and disposed by a waste disposal contractor. These companies can come to your studio and properly characterize, package, and dispose of your waste. You can collect your hazardous art wastes in closed and labeled containers until they’re full or when they need to be disposed.
  • To learn about your responsibilities and disposal options if you generate small amounts of hazardous waste, watch this Department of Ecology video.

Disposing of Contaminated Wastewater

In the process of creating art, contaminated wastewater is often produced. Don’t pour hazardous art wastewater down the drain.

Storm drains – Storm drains are generally located outdoors. Never pour art wastes down a storm drain.

Septic tanks – Learn if your studio is connected to a septic tank or the sewer. No wastewater contaminated with hazardous products is allowed in septic tanks. Hazardous products are labeled with the words Danger, Warning, Caution, or Poison.

Sanitary sewer – If you're connected to the sewer, almost no wastewater contaminated with hazardous products is allowed in the sanitary sewer. Hazardous products are labeled with the words Danger, Warning, Caution, or Poison.

Mop water from studio floor cleaning is usually acceptable for disposal to the sewer as long as chemical spills are cleaned up first.

When in doubt, contact your local health department to see if your liquid art wastes can safely be disposed down your drain.


Jewelry-Making Waste Disposal

Avoiding Toxic Products

See additional videos on school science hazardous waste disposal, storage, and spill response

Learn more about specific art hazard topics and tips for waste disposal