Can You Recycle Aerosol Cans? (And Process of Recycling)

Today, you will find aerosol cans applied to loads of uses. For instance, they make greasing your pan, applying sunscreen, or topping your dessert much easier. They are quite popular in your kitchen, bathroom, and even garage. As such, you have most likely come across it in your home.

However, now you are done using that gardening chemical or hair spray. And you are wondering just what to do with your aerosol can. We bet one thing that comes to your mind is recycling. And you think since I can recycle my metal and aluminum cans, I should not have any problem with recycling aerosol cans.

Well, the reality is that the circumstances somewhat different. However, you do not have to sweat about it because we got you covered.

In this article, we will answer your question, can you recycle aerosol cans. Then, we will tell you other things you need to keep in mind.

Dive in!

What Are Aerosol Cans?

Just before you get to recycling facts about aerosol cans, you should know what they are. And this even important because of the various components they have. So, here you go.

The aerosol can is a dispensing system that stores a substance. This system can then push substances out in the form of fine mist, foam, or spray. Typically, an aerosol can have five components. They include:

Active Ingredient

This concerns the substance or output that you intend to use. For example, the insecticide, paint, adhesives, whipped cream or cooking oil you want to use.


This component is responsible for regulating the active ingredient’s consistency. For instance, it ensures that your spray paints are not lumpy. Usually, dioxolane is the relevant solvent.


This is the component that forces the ingredient out. Usually, it has a gaseous form, although pressure might cause it to liquefy. Also, with food products, the propellant is carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Then, with other substances, flammable hydrocarbons.


This is the fourth component of an aerosol can. Typically, they come from steel or aluminum and are leakproof. They ensure that there is no evaporation or contamination of the active ingredient. They also supply the necessary pressure.


This is the final component of your aerosol can. It is a metal component that controls the discharge of the active ingredient. Typically, it consists of an outer and inner gasket, spring, dip tube, valve seat, and mounting cup. Also, you will need to push a button to activate the valve.

Are Aerosol Cans Recyclable?

Now, can these cans with their multifunctional components get recycled? The answer is YES. You can recycle your aerosol cans.

In fact, the aerosol cans come from steel or aluminum, all materials you can recycle. Precisely, about 60 percent of aerosol cans you see come from steel, while the other 40% comes from aluminum. However, where the problem arises is with the content of the can we earlier explained.

The thing is that these components make improper handling of aerosol cans dangerous. And if you try to recycle them the wrong way, it would only end up causing harm.

For instance, improper handling of aerosol cans can result in an explosion. So, you will want to be extra careful.

Regardless, with the right information, you can recycle aerosol cans. In turn, these recycled cans get used for a wide range of products, including bike parts, car parts, steel beams, new steel cans, appliances, aluminum cans, and rebar.

How to Recycle Aerosol Cans? (Step-by-Step Process)

Now that you know you can recycle your aerosol can, you are wondering how. Well, like we already mentioned, this is not a child’s play, as you will need to be extra careful.

However, we have got you. Here is a step-by-step process of how to recycle your aerosol cans.

Step 1: Empty Your Aerosol Cans

Believe us; this is an extremely important component of trying to recycle your aerosol can. And you will need to pay great attention if you do not want the can to explode and hurt you.

So, ensure your can is empty. Do not take chances. Shake your cans to see if there is any liquid there. If there is, then keep spraying until there is nothing left in there.

You do not want to want to pierce or puncture it unless you want to harm yourself. We bet you do not want that. So, do not consider piercing it to drain the content.

Also, you do not want to modify the can or try to compress it. Like we stated above, this can is pressurized. As such, any pressure will mean it explodes. So, avoid this.

Also, you do not want to remove its spray nozzle. Just leave it all as you bought it.

Step 2: Contact A Recycling Center

So, here is the thing. While you can recycle steel and aluminum easily, this is not the case with aerosol cans. Well, this is not in the recycling process, but the willingness of recycling centers to accept aerosol cans.

As such, the next step in your task to recycle is to find a willing recycling center. So, contact your local recycling center and tell them you have an aerosol can you want to recycle.

They will tell you if they accept them. And if they do not, you can proceed to search online for the nearest recycling center that does.

When doing this search, it would be best to remember to turn on your location. This would make it easier to locate a recycling center close to your area.

Step 3: Get It to the Recycling Center

Now that you have found a willing recycling center, the next step is to get it across to them. Usually, this will depend on the policy of the recycling center.

Some recycling centers have drop-off locations that you can take the cans to. In such cases, all you will need to do is pack your empty cans and drop them off that location.

Step 4: Recycling Process

At this point, you have contributed your quota to the recycling of aerosol cans. It is now up to the recycling center to recycle the materials.

Typically, these centers have special equipment. And with this equipment, they puncture the can. Then, the company uses a magnetic component to separate steel cans from aluminum cans.

Afterward, they get crushed, balled, and packed. At this stage, they are ready to get recycled. As such, these balled cans get sent to the appropriate quarters to get recycled.

Source: DepositPhotos

Can You Put Aerosol Cans in the Bin?

We have repeated so far that you must exercise care when it comes to your aerosol cans. Well, the thing is that it extends to when thinking of depositing your aerosol cans in the bin.

The truth is that it is NOT A GOOD IDEA to place your aerosol cans can in the household bin. Typically, these cans are hazardous and can explode if care is not taken. This is the case when you deposit a full or partially full can in the bin.

However, when you are sure your can is empty and completely empty, you can put it into a recycling bin. But remember to ensure that these cans are truly empty. Also, do not try to puncture them or anything. That is completely dangerous.

Are Aerosol Cans Bad for the Environment?

One thing that is on your mind is the environmental impacts of aerosol cans. You now know how common they are in your homes. As such, you are wondering if you are contributing positively or negatively to the environment with aerosol cans.

Well, the reality is that you might not be contributing negatively to the environment. And that is by adopting best practices when it comes to disposing of your aerosol cans. Yet aerosol cans are BAD for your environment.

This is because they produce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that affect the environment. In fact, this is a reduced contribution as aerosol cans once contributed prominently to environmental degradation and pollution.

Precisely, before 1978, aerosol cans contained chlorofluorocarbons, which significantly impacted the environment. Regardless, even today, these constituents have not been completely phased out. There are still around 10% causing issues to your environment.

Even the VOCs continues to cause smog problem. Then, when you consider the explosive characteristic of aerosol cans, it becomes even more threatening.

For instance, where you do not properly handle them, these cans can explode. And in turn, this can result in a fire outbreak. As you must already know, these would mean releasing so many toxic substances into the environment.

How to Dispose of Aerosol Cans? (Safe Ways to Dispose of Aerosol Cans)

One thing is certain; your aerosol cans will not last forever. Eventually, you will have to dispose of them.

However, you will hear aerosol cans getting classified as hazardous. As such, you will need to pay special attention when trying to dispose of aerosol cans. So, are you wondering how to do this? Let us get right to it.

Here is the thing. How you dispose of your aerosol cans depends on if it is full or otherwise. Typically, while it is easy to dispose of empty cans, this is not the same with full cans or those containing some active ingredient.

The first thing you will need to look out for us is if your can is full or empty. Also, do not just check once. It would be best to double-check. This way, you do not make a fatal error.

When it is empty, then you can go on to dispose of the can safely through any of the following means.

Green Disposal

One smart move would be green disposal. And that is what we have discussed all through. Once you are sure your cans are empty; what you will need to do is recycle them.

We have explained the process above. So, all you will need to do is follow them, and you are good to go. And remember all the dos and do not that we have explained above.

Thrash It

Another thing you can do is thrash the cans. And with this, you need to deposit the empty can in a bin. Typically, it will find its way to either a recycling center or a landfill.


As of 2014, over 3 billion aerosol cans got produced each year. Today, you can only imagine the considerable increase in the number of produced cans. So, if you did not get it before, now you see why it is important to adopt environmentally safe practices with aerosol cans.

We have answered the most pressing question you might have. More importantly. We have also told you safe ways to dispose of aerosol cans. So, own these tips and keep the environment safe.

Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.