Many people have a misconception that aerosol cans cannot be recycled and/or pose threats to the environment because of their toxic contents. While it's true that aerosol cans need to be handled with care, this type of can is able to be recycled and should be recycled.
Being aware of the following four factors regarding aluminum cans will make you more knowledgable of the recycling potentials and possible environmental effects of aerosol can use:
Aerosol cans can sometimes be considered hazardous waste.
Unless waste aerosol cans are "empty" as per the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act determination, they could be considered hazardous waste and regulated as such. If they do not meet RCRA "empty" standards, they can not be disposed of in a recycling facility that is not equipped to handle hazardous waste.
According to RCRA, an aerosol can is empty when it is completely devoid of compressed propellant. All of the contents of the can must have been emptied out as far as possible using the spray nozzle, and there can be no more than 3% of the original can capacity remaining.
Aerosol cans are usually made of steel or aluminum.
Aerosol cans are so easy to recycle because they are made up of highly recyclable materials. Steel and aluminum can both be recycled repeatedly, and they retain their quality regardless of how many times they're recycled.
Recycling aerosol cans ensures that they are properly disposed of and kept out of landfills.
Aerosol cans no longer contain CFCs.
Aerosol cans have a reputation of being environmentally harmful and unhealthy because they used to contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which have been shown to harm the ozone layer.
However, the United States government forbade using CFCs in aerosol cans back in 1978. Although aerosol cans do still contain other compressed gases and hydrocarbons, it has not been clearly proven that today's CFC-free aerosol cans pose a significant threat to the environment.
It's dangerous to try and remove an aerosol can nozzle.
When aerosol cans are recycled, it's a good idea to remove their plastic lids. However, removing the spray nozzle on the can or attempting to puncture the can is dangerous.
It's important to remember that the contents of an aerosol can remain pressurized even after the can's contents have all been used up. Aerosol cans are capable of explosion if they are improperly handled, so always handle them with care and avoid crushing or damaging them. Be sure to use a trusted recycling facility, such as Main Street Fibers, to recycle aerosol cans.