Visitors to Yellowstone National Park are encouraged to carry bear-deterrent pepper spray on their hikes, but with no recycling options, the spray cans from the park’s millions of annual visitors were ending up in landfills.
Now Yellowstone Park and its partners have launched a recycling program for bear spray canisters with collection sites at the park and in the greater Yellowstone area, including national forests, Gallatin Field Airport and retail outlets like REI.
The collection program accepts both used and full, unused canisters of bear spray. Unused spray cans often end up in the garbage because they are not allowed on a visitor’s flight home.
Designed by Montana State University engineering students, the bear spray canister recycling machine safely removes the pepper oil and propellant and then crushes the canister, so it can be recycled as high-quality aluminum.
The new recycling program will not only reduce the amount of spray cans entering the landfill, but it will also prevent the release of the spray’s harmful chemical propellant and pepper-based irritant into the air.