Friday, April 15, 2011

Recycle Your Aerosol Cans for Earth Day!

Each year nearly 4 billion aerosol products are produced in North America for a variety of common uses, from loosening a chain on a bike to shaving. Although aerosols have been free of CFCs since 1978, recent data shows that nearly 70% of consumers still believe that aerosol products harm the ozone layer.

Similarly, many consumers are unaware that consumer aerosol cans are recyclable. For example, empty steel cans of all kinds are recycled at a rate of more than 66%; yet, many empty steel aerosol containers are not finding their way to the recycling bins.

According to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), more than 94 million Americans have convenient curbside or drop-off access to recycling their empty steel aerosol containers. This means that more than 15 thousand programs accept steel cans, but only one third of those actively publicize their approval of empty aerosol cans. As a result, too many empty steel aerosol cans are taking up landfill space while valuable steel is not being recycled and reused as efficiently as it could be.

CAPCO and SRI are partnering to educate consumers and recycling program coordinators alike about the recyclability of empty steel aerosol containers. Many common products now feature the prominent Steel: “Please Recycle When Empty” logo to remind consumers of the recyclability of the package. Recycling empty steel aerosol containers is as simple as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Consumers should empty the aerosol of its contents through normal use.
  2. Check instructions for recycling from your local collector to see if empty aerosol cans are accepted for recycling in your municipality.
  3. Place empty aerosol containers in bins along with steel food cans and other recyclable content.

The cans will be processed along with other household recycling materials. For single stream (mixed recyclables), the empty steel aerosol packages will be magnetically separated from other recyclables, and once separated, the empty steel packaging (food, aerosol, etc...) will be baled before being sent to steel mills to become a variety of new steel products.

For additional information related to the recycling of empty steel aerosol packaging or to encourage your municipality to begin accepting them, visit the SRI website at To learn more facts and benefits of the aerosol product form, visit

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