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Because You Asked

Can I Recycle Aerosol Cans?

By Recyclebank |

Aerosols aren't as bad as they used to be, but recycling them is still tricky. Here's what you need to know about where to send your empty canisters.

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.


SOURCES: RecycleNation, Steel Recycling Institute, Steel Recycling Institute

What are your favorite non-aerosol alternatives to aerosol products? Please share in the comments below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Steven S. 2 months ago
    Posted Monday, February 21, 2022
    Happy President's Day for us in the US!
  • Katja Z. 2 months ago
    Posted on Monday February 21st 2022.

    10 points today.
    I'll probably never be able to use them but they all add up!
    Thank you Recyclebank!
  • Steven S. 7 months ago
    Posted Saturday, September 18, 2021
  • randy f. 7 months ago
    - Manual Pump Sprayers (though the paint has to be thinned quite a bit)
    - Air Filled Propellant (like in room air fresheners & hairspray)

    Re: >> What are your favorite non-aerosol alternatives to aerosol products? Please share in the comments below! Share with Your Friends<<
    • randy f. 2 months ago
      * In case you are not familiar, newer sprays are filled with less product but pressurized with forced/ pressurized air instead of caustic propellants or having to keep pumping. They are usually recyclable plastic bottles as well.
      Hair mouse is available that comes as a thick liquid and has a spongy top insert that aerates the serum into pouffy mousse once you squeeze the bottle. Again no CFL's.

    • Debra D. 2 months ago
      Love to get the can of whipping cream and spray into my mouth! Lol
  • Susan M. 9 months ago
    We have several "house hold hazards" drop off locations in my area. Check with your local gov and see what and where you can drop these types of items off near you.
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