As many of us at ILACSD know, one of the biggest barriers to getting folks to recycle is a lack of education on what is recyclable and how easy it can be! What might seem like constant changes to the items that can or cannot go into a blue bin often leave residents feeling a little confused. So today, let’s take a moment to talk about the right way to recycle a common household item… aerosol cans!

Open one of the cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage and chances are you’ll find an aerosol can. Though hairspray might be the first thing to pop into your head when you think of aerosols (I can’t be the only one picturing big 80s hair and an Aqua Net can?), the list of products that come in aerosol form is quite extensive. Here are just a few examples of products that are contained within the cylinder walls of an aerosol can:

Kitchen

Bathroom

Garage

Cooking Oil

Shaving Cream Gardening Chemicals

Whipped Cream

Hair Spray

Spray Paint

Cleaning Products

Dry Shampoo

Auto Maintenance Products

 Air Freshener

Sunscreen

Insect Repellants

Deodorant

Shower/Toilet Cleaners

 

Aerosol containers are composed of steel and aluminum. Steel is very similar to aluminum when it comes to its sustainable recycling capabilities according to our friends at Ball Corporation. You can check out our post on can growlers where we reviewed the benefits of materials like steel and aluminum for packaging. Because of its composition, aerosol cans are begging to be recycled. So how do you recycle them?

Well, when recycling an aerosol can, you first need to answer the question: “Is it completely empty?”

If you answered yes:

Awesome! Way to be aware of your needs, use up your products completely, and create less waste. Still, it is important that ensure that aerosol cans are completely empty. A quick way to be certain that the can is empty is to listen closely. Give the can a shake or spray (listen for any remaining fluid inside and verify that the product is no longer coming out of the nozzle). Once you know the can is empty, you can toss it in your blue bin for curbside recycling! No other steps are necessary. Make sure you never puncture aerosol can as it can be dangerous. There is no need to remove the nozzle before placing it in your recycling bin.

If you answered no:

Aerosol cans that still contain fluids are considered hazardous waste. You can still recycle these cans though! First, try offering the remaining contents to a friend or neighbor who might want it. Put the item on your local “Buy Nothing” page or see if it is able to be donated (unused spray paint can be donated Habitat for Humanity if it is in good enough condition). If you cannot donate or give the remaining product, you’ll want to treat it like any other household hazardous waste. Use the search bar on WasteFreeSD.org to find the closest location for recycling your hazardous waste.

 

So that’s it! Empty aerosol cans go directly in your blue bin to be recycled. Be sure to only buy as much of a product as you need and use it until it is depleted. Not only will that help you waste less, but it will make your recycling as easy as can be!