Japan Releases New Process to Recycle Aerosols

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After a two-year search, Japan has selected the Aerosolv recycling system as its nationwide solution for how local governments should handle the disposal of aerosol cans.

Japanese businesses already used Aerosolv and were able to win over the Aerosol Industry Association and Japan Waste Management Association in a contest that lasted from June 2006 to March 2008. The country recognized a need for aerosol can recycling because many were ending up in landfills, where they posed both environmental and health risks.

An aerosol can contains a pressurized substance which is released as a fine spray. In 1978, the U.S. EPA banned manufacturers from using fluorocarbons in aerosol products, because they were depleting the ozone layer. Photo: Dkimages.com

An aerosol can contains a pressurized substance which is released as a fine spray. In 1978, the U.S. EPA banned manufacturers from using fluorocarbons in aerosol products, because they were depleting the ozone layer. Photo: Dkimages.com

There are several differences between aerosol cans and other metal containers that make them more difficult to recycle.

  1. These cans are pressurized, and improperly deflating them could result in explosion
  2. Most aerosol cans contain hazardous material such as paints or solvents, which must be entirely drained before recycling

As a video shows, Aerosolv offers a machine that punctures a tiny hole in the cans while containing the pressure. Liquids are then drained into a large drum that can be properly disposed as hazardous waste. Once the aerosols have been drained, the cans themselves are deemed recyclable with other scrap metal such as steel cans.

Due to the potential dangers, consumers are advised not to attempt to drain aerosol cans themselves. In America, they can usually be taken to a household hazardous waste event for proper disposal.

There are currently more than 44,000 Aerosolv units in operation around the world. It is the only aerosol can recycling system certified by the EPA Environmental Technology Verification and Certification Program.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger