Recycling aerosol cans depends upon whether the container is empty or still has liquid inside of it. If the product is empty, you have the option of dropping it off in a bin designated for steel or aluminum at your local recycling facility or in your curbside bin if it is accepted. More than 5,300 communities across the U.S. have household residential and curbside drop-off and buy-back programs (they will give you a few cents for each returned can). First, here are some key points to remember:
- Be sure that the can is empty. This means that all of the product has to be used up.
- Dispose of the empty cans using your curbside pick up service or by visiting your local drop off centers. It is best to touch base with your local centers to be sure they accept this type of product for recycling.
- NEVER throw aerosol cans in roadside dumps or trash fires. These cans are still pressurized and can explode.
But what happens if your container is not empty? If your product is defective, many times the manufacturer will allow you to return the product to them, free of charge so that they can supply you with a replacement product. As long as there is liquid in the container, the aerosol can is not considered waste, but product.
If your container is not defective, there are very few options. Do not puncture cans, drain, rinse and then recycle. This is dangerous since the contents in the can are under pressure. Once the container is punctured, you could be injured. Another option would be to contact your local recycling facility to see if they will accept partially filled cans. Many times, they may have a way of draining these containers. You may also contact a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal.
It is extremely important that aerosol cans are recycled for a number of reasons. However, one of the most important is safety. When aerosol cans are thrown into landfills, they become a hazard. If a fire were to break out, these contains could explode and cause physical harm to landfill workers and fire fighters. Therefore, please take the extra step to recycle.