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Recycling Empty Aerosol Cans

Can Aerosol Cans be Recycled? Yes. But do it right

Aerosol cans are fairly simple – the can is made of steel or aluminum and contains a product – like hair spray, shaving cream, paint, or whipped cream - to be dispensed.

The can is then pressurized with a propellant that, when released from the can, atomizes the product and produces a spray.

Empty aerosol cans are also fairly simple to recycle:

  1. Completely empty the product so the can is not pressurized  
  2. Remove and discard the lid, and
  3. Place the empty aerosol can in the single stream recycling container

** WARNING:  Cans that are not empty can cause explosions or fire **

County Waste and Recycling reminds its residential and commercial customers that aerosol cans are steel and aluminum and easily recyclable but must be completely emptied first.

Aerosol products have had an interesting history. The National Aerosol Association estimates that almost 4 billion aerosol units were produced in the United States alone in 2005. That wide spread popularity didn’t happen overnight. Even though aerosol technology was developed decades earlier, those steel and aluminum cans filled with product and propellant were widely used during World War II to dispense insecticide to keep the troops safe from insect born disease.

After the war, the commercial value of aerosol cans was quickly realized and, by the late 1950s, they became a common household item. Today consumers can and do find thousands of household products that are conveniently dispensed from an aerosol can.

From cans to newspapers, milk cartons to pizza boxes, County Waste offers customers easy, convenient recycling collection services. Once picked up at the curbside, recyclables are taken to a facility near Albany for processing, separating and bundling before moving on to their next destination.

Please make sure empty aerosol cans are part of that recycling process.

Recycling aerosol cans is a good way to keep useable steel and aluminum out of the landfill. While recycling the pressurized containers takes a bit more thought than simply tossing a nearly-empty container in the single stream recycling, the recycled product is worth the extra effort.

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