aerosol can.
Aerosol Disposal

Aerosol Disposal and Recycling

Aerosol technically refers to the product contained within the can, but we often use the word to describe the containers too. From deodorant to spray paint, aerosol cans are used in large volumes across the world for all sorts of purposes every day.

While you may realise they must be handled and disposed of with care, you might not quite know why. This guide explains everything you need to know about aerosol can disposal – from how they’re made to why careful disposal and recycling is so important. Find out more about aerosol disposal below.

How to dispose 
of aerosol cans

To dispose of aerosol cans as a business or at home you must first ensure the cans are empty. Then the general process for aerosol can disposal at home or work is as follows:

  • Check the aerosol can is empty – shake it to ensure you can’t feel or hear any liquid moving around and give it a spray to check nothing comes out of the nozzle.
  • Remove any detachable parts, such as the lid. Dispose of these with the relevant recycling stream – such as in your domestic recycling bin or with your commercial plastic recycling at work, depending on the material they’re made from.
  • Avoid crushing, piercing, or flattening the aerosol can. They’re pressurised cans, so may explode or cause damage if modified. Leave the nozzle in place, even though it’s often made of plastic.
  • Place the aerosol can in your recycling bin. Check with your local authority but you can normally dispose of empty recycling cans in your household recycling bin in the UK. For businesses, you can put empty aerosol cans in your commercial metal recycling bin or a hazardous waste bin.
  • Wait for collection of either your domestic or commercial recycling bins. Place the bins in an agreed and accessible pick-up spot and they’ll be removed and taken to a local recycling facility.

How to dispose of 
full aerosol cans

The contents of most aerosol cans last for a long time. If you have full ones or aerosol cans that are not empty, then the best thing to do is hold onto them. Find some storage space where you can keep them for future use – whether they’re spray paints, deodorants, or disinfectants.

If you don’t have space to store full aerosol cans, then you could donate them to a local charity shop. Ask around and give them to a friend, family member, or neighbour who will use them. However, if you must dispose of full aerosol cans then you need to throw them away with hazardous waste.

Businesses can arrange hazardous waste collections to dispose of aerosol cans that aren’t empty. Simply place any full or partially full aerosol cans in specific hazardous waste bins and book collection by licensed waste carriers. Households should visit an out-of-home recycling centre that has hazardous waste disposal facilities to get rid of full aerosol cans.

overhead view of tops of colourful aerosol paint cans.

Arrange aerosol can recycling 
for your business

Get rid of any old aerosols your organisation no longer needs in a safe and environmentally friendly way. At Business Waste we provide aerosol can recycling for companies all over the UK. We’ll deliver free bins to store your aerosols, then arrange collection by our licensed waste carriers on a schedule that suits you.

Send empty aerosol cans for recycling to reduce the amount of landfill tax you pay and help protect the planet. Get a free no obligation quote for aerosol can disposal tailored to your business – based on the amount and type of aerosols and your location.

For full or partly full aerosols we can also arrange hazardous waste collections. There are a range of bins available to store any old aerosols and you can arrange collections as a one-off or on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly basis if you regularly create aerosol waste.

Contact us online or call 0800 211 8390 for a free quote for aerosol can collections and recycling. Our expert team can answer any questions you have about aerosol can recycling and advise on the best bins, collection schedule, and management plan for your old aerosols.

Get a free quote

Aerosol disposal

  • Can aerosols be recycled?

    Yes, you can recycle aerosol cans made from tin-plated steel and aluminium, as these are recyclable metals. You can also recycle aerosol can caps, as in most cases it’s made from recyclable metal or plastic. The valve and actuator are often made from plastic and also recyclable.

    When recycling aerosols they need to be empty – as any remaining original contents may class as hazardous waste. As long as they’re empty you can easily recycle most deodorant cans, air fresheners, spray paints and more.

  • How should I dispose of aerosol cans?

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

    Aerosol cans are recyclable, so disposing of aerosols can be relatively easy. To dispose of aerosol cans, you should:

    • Ensure the aerosol cans are completely empty of all products before disposal.
    • Remove the lid and place this alongside the rest of your dry mixed recyclables – as this doesn’t need to go through the same recycling process as the metal can itself.
    • Store empty aerosol cans in the appropriate container or bin before disposal. You should ensure the cans are not pierced, crushed, or flattened. They should also be stored in a cool, dry place where the cans will not reach a high temperature.
    • Arrange collection of the bins holding your aerosol cans by a licensed waste carrier to transport to a nearby facility for recycling.
  • Which bin do aerosols go in?

    When recycling aerosols you can put any empty cans made from tin-plated steel or aluminium in your metal recycling bin. This way they’ll be collected, sorted, and recycled alongside other waste metal. At home you can normally put aerosols in your mixed recycling bin – though check with your local authority first.

  • What happens to aerosols after they’re put in the bin?

    Aerosol cans can be recycled at an appropriate treatment facility. Many local councils also offer kerbside 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 their materials (such as metal, plastic, or rubber). They’re 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, as they can harm the environment. While their use may be unavoidable, there are various new alternatives to aerosols currently under development. These include the Airopack – a dispensing system powered by air. Additionally, consumers can purchase aerosol alternatives – such as roll-on deodorants instead of aerosol cans.

  • What type of waste are aerosols?

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

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

    You can reduce the amount of waste you produce within your business and personal life by finding ways to repurpose items instead of throwing them away. However, it can be complicated with aerosol cans because you must ensure they don’t get pierced or damaged during the process.

    Some people have found 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. Otherwise, simply recycling aerosols means lots of the materials get reused in some way.

  • 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 Business Waste, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with cost-effective waste management services that enable you to dispose of all manner of waste without putting pressure on your bank account.

    For example, we’ll provide you with access to the appropriate recycling bins or containers completely free of charge. Furthermore, at Business Waste, we avoid landfill wherever possible, meaning you won’t have to pay any additional landfill tax when disposing of aerosol cans.

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

    To dispose of aerosol cans at home, you can arrange for aerosol products to be collected by your local council. Though the rules and regulations vary depending on your location, you can apply for this online or through the post. However, you can also drop off your used or empty aerosol products at:

    • Nearby recycling centres.
    • Local waste disposal sites.
    • Specialist collection points at supermarkets.
  • 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 landfill?

    Thankfully, the number of aerosols sent to landfill 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.

  • What are some facts about aerosols?

    A few further facts about aerosols are:

    • 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 3 million tonnes of VOC (volatile organic compounds) air pollution. It’s estimated this figure will rise to around 2.2 million by 2050.
  • 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?

    Aerosol containers are typically made of four components. Each one of these is made from different materials of varying degrees of recyclability. The four components aerosol cans are made from are the:

    • Container – The main body of the aerosol is typically made from some form of metal – such as tin-plated metal and aluminium. These 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.
    • Valve – The valve ensures the aerosol container remains airtight. Typically, the valve is made from plastic.
    • Actuator – The actuator is another form of valve designed to control the volume and direction where the aerosol product is released. Again, it’s typically made from some form of durable plastic or rubber.
    • Cap – The cap (or lid) is designed to seal the product in between use. Often, it’s made from easily recyclable plastics or metal.
  • How are aerosol cans made?

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

Learn about more 
waste types

Find out more about other rubbish streams.

Read our guides to waste types
free bins icon.

Get a fast and free quote

Get a fast FREE quote for your aerosol waste disposal

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of aerosol waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK

Read our latest news

woman working in a zero waste shop.

How to Start a Zero Waste Shop

Thinking about starting a zero waste store? You’ll need a solid plan and the right equipment. Read this guide for tips when setting up a zero waste shop.

empty laboratory.

A Laboratory Waste Disposal Guide

Laboratory waste disposal guidelines in the UK keep people and the environment safe. Follow the steps in this laboratory waste disposal guide to stay safe.

Learn About