How to Recycle Aerosol Cans - The Aerosolv® Advantage

Aerosolv® eliminates a hazardous waste stream and greatly benefits the environment by converting an aerosol can into a recyclable steel container.

To control and prevent workplace hazards effectively, companies should always use a hazard control plan to guide the selection and implementation of controls. According to OSHA guidelines for hazard prevention and control, companies should take certain steps.

According to a recent publication, American industries consume more than 3 billion cans of aerosol every year. Typically, aerosol cans are disposed of in the trash can or recycling bin once they are depleted. The problem with this disposal method is that the cans usually are not completely empty when they are discarded.

Aerosolv® Aerosol Can Disposal Recycling System

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An aerosol is a pressurized metal container that uses a propellant to disperse a substance in the form of liquid or gaseous particles. These containers can be filled with anything from paint to degreaser, and are used in many industries.

The problem with the improper disposal of aerosol cans is that when they are thrown away, there is usually liquid and propellant remaining in the can that was unable to be aerosolized. Often, the substances that remain inside an aerosol can have a deleterious impact on the environment if they seep out when they are thrown away.

It may not seem problematic if one or two aerosol cans end up in a landfill with a small amount of hazardous material in them, but if millions of cans are improperly disposed of, the results could be disastrous. Because of this potential for large-scale negative impact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict regulations for the proper disposal of aerosol cans.

How to Dispose of Full Aerosol Cans

The Aerosolv® Aerosol Can Disposal Recycling System is designed to help industries meet regulatory compliance by disposing of aerosol cans quickly and cost-effectively. Here is an outline of the regulations for the disposal of aerosol cans and how the Aerosolv® system can help you meet compliance and avoid fines.

Model 5000


Model 360


Model 7000XL


Using the Aerosolv System

Using an Aerosolv® Recycling System couldn’t be easier. Simply place the can into the cast aluminum body, lock lid to secure the can in place, and push down on the handle. The durable, non-sparking piercing pin punctures the can, allowing the residual liquids to flow directly into the collection drum. The two-piece coalescing filter/carbon cartridge, which threads directly to the ¾" bung of the drum, then captures odors and potentially harmful VOCs.


Insert aerosol can into housing sleeve, so that shoulder of can rests on gasket.


Lower the sliding top plate and firmly press against plastic sleeve or bottom of can. Tighten lock knob.


Push handle down firmly and hold in place while can releases initial pressure and contents. Allow the contents of the can to drain into the drum.

For complete instructions click here.

Save Time and Money with the Aerosolv System

Using the Aerosolv system to empty aerosol cans is faster than other emptying methods, and ensuring proper disposal protects companies from the possibility of fines due to improper disposal. A 55-gallon drum can hold roughly 125 aerosol cans, and it can cost as much as $750 to dispose of a 55-gallon drum as hazardous waste. This means that companies might be spending as much as $6 per can to properly dispose of an aerosol can as a hazardous material.

A 55-gallon drum fitted with the Aerosolv system can contain the residual liquid of up to 4,000 cans of aerosol. This means that the disposal costs of aerosol contents using the Aerosolv system are a fraction of what they would be otherwise. Not only does the Aerosolv system offer regulatory compliance, but it can save companies thousands of dollars in waste management.

Recyclable Steel and RCRA Compliance

In approximately 10 to 20 seconds after using the Aerosolv® can puncturing system, you end up with an empty steel can with a small, smooth edged hole. No spills, no jagged edges, and no compressed gas … so it’s ready for recycling with your other scrap steel.


What are the Regulations for Aerosol Disposal?

The regulations for aerosol-can disposal are not concerned with the metal can itself but the contents of the can. Many aerosols contain hazardous substances or volatile propellants that are flammable or potentially harmful to the environment.

According to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), aerosol cans might be considered hazardous even after they are no longer able to spray their contents. If the substance inside an aerosol can is deemed to be hazardous, then it needs to be disposed of as a hazardous material.

To be considered a non-hazardous substance, facilities are required to ensure that an aerosol’s contents are emptied to contain no more than 1 inch or 3 percent by weight of the can’s hazardous contents. If the substance inside an aerosol is not considered hazardous, this does not necessarily mean that the aerosol can be thrown away or recycled.

Facilities also need to check to ensure that the propellant used to disperse the contents of the can is not flammable or hazardous either. If the propellant is considered a hazardous substance, it will need to be fully emptied before disposal.

If aerosol cans are not wholly emptied before disposal, the potentially flammable chemicals or propellants inside can cause them to explode. Because excess chemicals pose a safety and environmental risk, there are hefty fines for companies that do not dispose of them in accordance with RCRA regulations. In 2014, AT&T settled for $52 million with the state of California for the improper disposal of hazardous materials such as aerosol cans and batteries.

Can Aerosol Cans be Thrown In the Trash?

The EPA allows aerosol cans to be disposed of as ordinary waste if companies follow RCRA guidelines for proper emptying. This means that if a facility opts to throw aerosol cans away as non-hazardous substances, they are—in effect—guaranteeing that the cans have been completely emptied of any hazardous chemicals or propellants.

Companies are subject to fines and penalties for improper disposal of aerosol cans that are not completely emptied before disposal. Because of this, it is in the best interest of a facility to ensure that cans are properly emptied before disposal to avoid costly reprisals from regulatory agencies.

Can You Recycle Aerosol Cans?

A wide variety of major industries utilize aerosol cans, spanning industrial manufacturing, municipalities and vocational education, among others. What happens to an aerosol can after it has reached its useful life? Proper disposal guidelines dictate that pressurized aerosol cans are typically sealed in a drum to be processed as hazardous waste at a landfill or facility. The cans are considered to be hazardous because they contain a liquid hazardous waste or are still pressurized, which may cause them to potentially explode at the landfills. Companies that do not dispose of aerosol cans properly risk paying hefty fines.

However, this does not have to be the case. Aerosolv® offers the only technology of its type to be certifications tested and verified by the joint US EPA and California EPA Environmental Technology Verification Program. Aerosolv safely depressurizes the aerosol can, collects all residual liquid, and filters VOCs. Punctured and drained aerosol cans meet Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations of scrap metal, which allows them to be recycled or safely disposed.

What is the Aerosolv Aerosol Recycling System?

Aerosolv® is an innovative solution that allows users to fully empty the contents of an aerosol can into a drum. Once the contents of the can have been extracted using the Aerosolv system, the aerosol container can be discarded as regular waste or recycled as scrap metal. The drum can be discarded as hazardous waste once it reaches capacity.

The Aerosolv system mounts directly onto a 30- or 55-gallon steel drum. Aerosolv features a puncture device that will easily penetrate the can and allow all excess contents to be drained into the drum. The two-piece coalescing filter and carbon cartridge traps odors and potentially harmful VOCs, keeping personnel protected from the drum’s contents.

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