How to Recycle Aerosol Cans
Aerosol cans are used to store everything from food to bathroom products to paint. While the can itself has the same value as other metal cans, the pressurized air inside and potentially hazardous contents make recycling a bit more complicated.
Aerosol Can Recycling Preparation
- Do your best to use up all the product inside. If the can still has product inside, even if it’s nonhazardous product like whipped cream, your recycling program will not accept it. The easiest way to make sure it’s empty is to shake the can and listen for liquid inside, or spray until nothing comes out.
- Most aerosol cans come with a plastic cap, which should be removed and recycled separately. Visit our recycling guide on plastic caps for more information.
- DO NOT puncture a hole in the can to remove any remaining product, as the can will explode and hurt you. You should also not attempt to remove the spray nozzle on top of the can.
- Verify whether your community accepts aerosol cans with other metal cans, or whether they are classified as household hazardous waste (HHW). There are separate disposal options for each.
Why Recycle Aerosol Cans
- Aerosol cans are made of either aluminum or steel, both of which are high-value metals that can be infinitely recycled into new metal products
- The recycling process involves safely puncturing the can, but if thrown in the garbage, the can could explode when crushed in a landfill
Frequent Aerosol Can Recycling Questions
- How to Safely Dispose of Cleaning Products: Find out what steps to take for your unused cleaners, many of which come in aerosol cans
- Japan Releases New Process to Recycle Aerosols: Learn how Japan helped revolutionize the aerosol can recycling process
- The Aerosol Can Debate Continues: Inside the conversation about the environmental impact of aerosol hair spray