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Are Aerosol Cans Recyclable?

Aerosol Recycling

Do you often find yourself standing by your recycling bins and boxes feeling confused about what you can recycle? You’re not alone. In the first of our series that aims to quash the confusion, we’re looking at aerosols. So can you recycle aerosol cans and what happens if you don’t?

Can you recycle aerosol cans?

Yes, you can recycle aerosol cans. They're made from tin-plated steel and aluminium, both of which are recyclable. Around 75% of local authorities accept them in home recycling and there are also 2000 recycling banks for aerosol recycling. Recycle Now has a handy tool for finding your nearest recycling point. We use 600 million aerosols in the UK each year, so making an effort to recycle them will make a difference.

How to recycle aerosol cans

Recycling an aerosol in the office? Here are a few handy tips.

  • Make sure the can is completely empty before you recycle it.
  • Take care not to pierce, crush, or flatten it. Don’t forget that it’s a pressurised canister!
  • Remove any loose or removable parts like lids. Dispose of them with the rest of your metal or plastic recycling.

If you are looking to improve your office recycling bins look no further!

What happens when you recycle aerosol cans?

One happy effect of recycling aerosols is that it saves energy. According to Recycle Now, if everyone in the UK recycled one can of air freshener, it would save enough energy to run a TV in over 270,000 homes! When you put an aerosol can in the recycling, it’s taken to a facility and processed. Here’s what happens.

  • A specialist machine pierces a small hole in the can, allowing any remaining contents to drain. This means it’s safe to dispose of.
  • The components of the aerosol are separated into different materials and recycled.
  • Once they’ve been recycled, aerosol components are used to make new products from mobile phones to electrical appliances, and even aircraft!

How long do aerosols take to break down in a landfill?

If you don’t recycle aerosols, they end up in landfill where they can take as long as 500 years to break down.

Are aerosols recycled around the world?

Yes. Because the metals used to produce them are widely recyclable, aerosols are commonly recycled. In France for example, residents can recycle metal along with paper and plastic in a yellow mixed recycling bin. Steel and aluminium are separated in a recycling facility before being crushed and melted to make new products.

Hopefully, this article has cleared up some of your recycling confusion. Keep an eye out for more interesting recycling tips and facts coming up. For more articles on recycling and sustainability, check out the rest of our blog, including this great guide to make recycling easy.

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