How to Properly Recycle Aerosol Cans

deToday, recycling is common practice. Many municipalities provide recycling cans for free. Some ever offer incentives to get more people to recycle. Most people are aware of what they can and cannot recycle, with one exception: aerosol cans. Aerosol cans are made from either aluminum or steel, which means they are 100% recyclable (even cans that were used to dispense pesticides). However, there’s a bit more to it than just throwing it in a recycling bin and putting it out by the curb for pick up.

Here’s how to properly recycle an aerosol can.

1. Use the entire product
If no product comes out when you press down on the actuator, then the aerosol can is empty. There may still be remnants of the product left, but it will be disposed of by the staff of the recycling center. When the can is empty, it can be recycled like any other aluminum or steel product.

Aerosol cans are still recyclable if there is product left in the can, but you will need to take it to a hazardous waste facility. This could mean a long drive depending on where you live, and many hazardous waste facilities charge a small fee.
Since aerosol cans are airtight, the product inside will stay fresh for a very long time. It’s better to just use up the product, even if it takes awhile.

2. Keep all the materials in tact
The lids of aerosol cans are usually made of plastic and can be recycled separately. Every other part of the aerosol can, however, should be kept completely intact.

Puncturing the can or removing the nozzle can be extremely dangerous and should not be done by anyone other than a staff member of a recycling center. The contents of aerosol cans are highly pressurized. Even when the can is empty, it is still full of pressurized air. Attempting to puncture the can is dangerous for you and for the staff of the recycling center.

It is also extremely important to keep the can’s label intact. The label is helpful to the staff of the recycling center when determining what was in the aerosol can and how to properly dispose of whatever product may remain.

When recycling aerosol cans, dispose of it through normal household waste disposal methods. If you are unsure about a specific product, contact your local waste disposal office. It is also important to note that not all communities accept aerosol cans for recycling. Contact your local aluminum collection site or recycling coordinator for details if you are unsure.