Aerosol disposal and recyclingWhile aerosol technically refers to the product contained within the can, we often use the word to describe the containers too. From deodorant to spray paint, aerosol products are used in large volumes across the world every day. However, while you may be aware that they must be handled (and disposed of with care), you probably aren’t sure exactly why. However, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about Aerosols – from how they are made to why disposing of them carefully is so important.

What type of waste are aerosols?

Aerosols are considered to be a form of classified or hazardous waste. This means that you must proceed with caution when disposing of them. In fact, the EPA estimates that aerosol cans make up around 40% of the hazardous waste that is sent to specialist facilities each year.

Who invented aerosols?

Studies suggest that the concept of aerosol cans or containers (a system that allows liquid particles to be distributed as mist) dates as far back as 1790. However, the original patent for aerosol was awarded to chemical biologist Erik Rotheim in 1927. Since then, many different variations of aerosol products have been introduced to the international market.

What are Aerosols made from, and how are they made?

Aerosol containers are typically made of four components, each made of different materials of varying degrees of recyclability.

The Container. This is the main body of the aerosol and is typically made from some form of metal – such as tin-plated metal and aluminium. This is because the materials are unlikely to react negatively with whatever is stored inside the can itself. In the UK, it’s estimated that 60% of aerosol containers are made from tin-plated steel and 40% from aluminium. These materials are widely recycled in the UK and beyond.

The Valve. The valve is used to ensure that the aerosol container remains airtight. Typically, the valve is made from plastic.

The Actuator. The actuator is another form of valve designed to control the volume and direction at which the aerosol product is released. Again, it is typically made from some form of durable plastic or rubber.

The Cap. The cap, or the lid, is designed to seal the product in between use. Often, it is made of easily recyclable plastics or metal.

How are they made?

When the four components are brought together, great care is taken to ensure the product remains airtight and leakproof – meaning that they are safe and ready for use. They are typically made in a factory, where the production line can be carefully monitored and assessed.

Aerosol Disposal

How should I dispose of Aerosols?

Whether you use aerosols as part of the daily running of your company or within your personal life, you must dispose of them correctly. This is because the contents inside the can may be harmful to human or animal life. Furthemore, the volatile nature of the product means that it could also explode or cause fires if pierced or otherwise damaged.

Thankfully, as aerosol cans can now be recycled, disposing of his classified substance is much easier than you would imagine. However, you should ensure that:

    Ensure that aerosol cans are empty of all products before disposal.

    Remove the lid and place this alongside the rest of your dry mixed recyclables – as this does not need to go through the same recycling process as the actual can itself.

    Store cans in the appropriate container or bin before disposal. You should ensure that the cans are not pierced, crushed, or flattened at any time. They should also be stored in a cool, dry place where the cans will not reach a high temperature.

Next life.

What happens to Aerosols after they have been put in the bin?

As mentioned previously, aerosol cans can be recycled when taken to a treatment facility. In fact, many local councils also offer curbside pickup for aerosol products used within the home. When taken to the appropriate facility, the following process occurs:

A small hole is pierced into the aerosol can, using a specialist machine. This allows any remaining liquid inside the can to drain out – rendering the rest of the materials safe for disposal.

The remaining components of the aerosol product are separated based on the material they are composed of (i.e. metal, plastic, or rubber). They are then recycled through the usual channels.

Once recycled, aerosols can be used to make a wide variety of products. For example, recycled metals can be used to make parts for mobile phones, cars, aircraft, and even some electrical appliances.

What are some eco-friendly alternatives to aerosols?

Many consumers are growing concerned about using aerosols in their daily life, due to the fact that they can harm the environment. While their use may be unavoidable, there are various new alternatives to aerosols currently under development – such as the Airopack – a dispensing system that is powered by air. Additionally, consumers can purchase aerosol alternatives – such as roll-on deodorants instead of aerosol products.

What can I do with aerosols instead of throwing them away?

You can reduce the amount of waste you produce both within your business and personal life by finding ways to repurpose items instead of throwing them away. However, this task is made slightly more complicated when dealing with aerosol cans because you must ensure they do not get pierced or damaged during the process. That being said, many users have found that aerosol cans can be used in a variety of DIY projects. For example, they can be used to create unique artwork or stands for lamps.

What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of aerosols?

The cost of aerosol recycling can be factored into the cost of your commercial waste collection plan. At BusinessWaste, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with cost-effective waste management services – that enable them to dispose of all manner of waste without putting pressure on their bank account. For example, we will provide you with access to the appropriate recycling bins or containers completely free of charge. Furthemore, at BusinessWaste, we avoid landfills wherever possible, meaning that you will not have to pay any additional landfill tax.

How many aerosols are there?

According to a recent report from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, nearly 40 billion aerosol cans are used each year globally.

We use around 600 million aerosol cans each year in the UK, which roughly works out at approximately ten aerosols per person.

How many aerosols are in landfills?

Thankfully, the number of aerosols sent to landfills within the UK each year is gradually reducing. A recent survey found that 70% of consumers ensure their aerosol products are sent to recycling facilities.

More facts about aerosols.

The UK produces and uses the highest volume of aerosol products in Europe.

A recent study found that household aerosols now produce more smog in the UK than vehicles.

Each year, aerosols release over 1.3 million tonnes of VOC )volatile organic compounds) air pollution. It’s estimated that this figure will rise to around 2.2 million by 2050.

Where can you take aerosols to recycle/dispose of them for free?

Aerosol products can be collected by your local council. Though the rules and regulations vary from place to place, you can apply for this online or through the post. However, you can also drop off your used or empty aerosol products at:

    Local recycling centres.
    Local waste disposal sites.
    Specialist collection points at supermarkets.

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