Dear Recyclebank: Are aerosol cans recyclable? –Carl
Dear Carl: Recycling aerosol cans comes down to two factors: Materials and construction. These cans are generally made of easily recyclable metals like steel and aluminum, along with plastic caps that can be removed. As we’ve previously covered, where the process gets difficult is dealing with the pressurized gases that propel material out of the can. Depressurizing aerosols can be dangerous; this is why you will see warnings to never puncture the can yourself. Aerosol cans that haven’t been fully emptied of product are considered household hazardous waste [HHW] and cannot be recycled through standard means. These will need to be brought to your local HHW facility.
What if you’ve used up everything in the can and hear nothing but silence? The can itself is completely recyclable, but in this case, your hauler will have to determine what to do next. Some areas will accept empty aerosols for curbside pickup, while others still consider the empty cans to be potentially hazardous to their workers. Call your city or town’s recycling facility or check their online guidelines before tossing those cans.
One more thing to consider: While aerosols do far less damage to the environment than they did prior to the widespread banning of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the U.S. in 1978, the replacement propellants can still cause some environmental damage and also tend to be flammable. Consider purchasing and using non-aerosol products where you can. For instance, we have tips and tricks for greener hairspray.