How to Dispose of Aerosol Cans in the UK

Did you know that aerosol cans are made from recyclable metals like tin-plated steel and aluminium? Yet, many people are not aware of the proper disposal methods for these widely used products. Failing to dispose of aerosol cans responsibly can have detrimental effects on the environment and may even pose safety risks. So how can we ensure that we are properly disposing of aerosol cans? In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of aerosol can disposal, from recycling empty aerosol cans to handling non-empty ones, and even explore eco-friendly alternatives.

Short Summary

  • Ensure proper recycling bin placement for empty aerosol cans.
  • Remove plastic lids before disposal and handle non-empty aerosol cans with care.
  • Recycle responsibly to reduce landfill waste, conserve resources, and minimize safety risks.

Proper Disposal of Empty Aerosol Cans

We must dispose of empty aerosol cans correctly for both the environment and safety, ensuring correct recycling. People use an estimated 650 million metal aerosols in the UK each year, with over 80% likely used in households, making recycling crucial. You should put aerosol cans made of tin-plated steel or aluminium in the metal recycling bin. For home use, you can place these cans in the mixed recycling bin.

However, you should check with your local authority for specific guidelines, as recycling rules can differ. Only 52% of people feel very or somewhat confident about disposing of aerosols in their community.

Before you dispose of your aerosol cans, ensure they’re entirely empty. Press the nozzle until you can’t hear any more air or propellant. This action makes the recycling process safer and more efficient. We don’t recommend crushing, heating, or putting partially discharged aerosol cans in mixed recycling. Instead, dispose of them separately to recycle them correctly.

Recycling Bin Placement

For a safe aerosol can recycling process, homeowners must follow the recommended guidelines, especially for spray paint cans. Place empty aerosol cans in your home’s mixed recycling bin for the right disposal. Many recycle these cans through household collection schemes and specific recycling points.

When you adhere to these guidelines, you contribute to environmental protection and reduce safety risks. Correct recycling bin placement enhances the recycling process’s efficiency and ensures no mixing of hazardous waste with other recyclables, decreasing accident chances.

Removing Plastic Lids

Always remove plastic lids from your aerosol cans before recycling. Dispose of these lids with other plastic wastes. By detaching the plastic lids and placing them in the right recycling bin, you ensure separate processing of recyclable metals from the cans, optimizing the recycling process’s efficiency.

Organizations like the UK Aerosol Recycling Initiative and Alupro, along with policies like the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), aim for mandatory recycling targets of 50% for aluminium and 85% for steel by 2030. These initiatives encourage consumers to recycle all empty aerosols responsibly, leading to efficient waste management.

Though it might seem minor, removing the plastic lid is a vital step in the recycling process.

Handling Non-Empty Aerosol Cans

Handle non-empty aerosol cans with care due to their hazardous nature. If you have unused full aerosol cans, think about keeping them for future use, donating, or disposing of them as hazardous waste, following the right aerosol recycling guidelines.

Some major retailers offer collection points for full aerosols, plastic bottles, and other recyclables. This option is a convenient way to dispose of non-empty aerosol cans. Always handle these cans carefully, as they contain pressurized and potentially dangerous materials.

Household Recycling Centre

Household Recycling Centres provide hazardous waste disposal services. If you possess partially or entirely full aerosol cans, take them to a local recycling facility. Many household recycling collection centres outside homes can handle hazardous waste. Bring your full aerosol cans to these centres for disposal.

Hazardous Waste Collection Services

Businesses with non-empty aerosol cans should reach out to a waste management company for proper disposal. Hazardous waste collection services offer:

  • Collection
  • Transportation
  • Treatment
  • Disposal

These services manage hazardous waste safely, following current regulations and using the latest technologies.

By using licensed waste carriers for hazardous waste collection, businesses can dispose of their non-empty aerosol cans safely and responsibly. This practice not only safeguards the environment but also meets the legal obligations businesses have concerning hazardous waste disposal.

Aerosol Can Recycling Process

Aerosol cans undergo specific processes for recycling, ensuring the reuse of their materials. If you’re recycling an aerosol can, remember not to crush or pierce it. Instead, put it in the appropriate recycling bin or container.

During the recycling of aerosol cans, they undergo the following steps:

  1. Separation of metal and plastic parts.
  2. Melting the metal for reuse in new product manufacturing.
  3. Shredding the plastic for new product creation.

Recycling aerosol cans helps decrease landfill waste, conserve resources, and cut down the energy required for new product production.

Treatment Facilities

Treatment facilities are pivotal in aerosol can recycling. At these sites, they:

  1. Break down the cans into their individual elements.
  2. Process each component.
  3. Melt the metal parts for reuse.
  4. Shred the plastic elements for new product manufacturing.

Using treatment facilities for aerosol recycling ensures efficient and responsible material recycling. This practice not only diminishes landfill waste but also saves essential natural resources and the energy needed for new material production.

Kerbside Pickup

Many local councils provide kerbside pickup for aerosol cans within their recycling initiatives. This handy service lets residents dispose of aerosol cans with their regular recycling, ensuring proper processing and preventing landfill disposal. Always make sure aerosol cans are empty before kerbside recycling to prevent potential risks at the recycling center.

Kerbside pickup is a vital service for responsible aerosol can disposal. It lessens the environmental footprint of these products and guarantees safe and efficient component processing. By using this service, residents contribute to waste reduction and environmental protection.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Aerosols

With growing environmental awareness, many seek greener alternatives to conventional aerosol products. Options like Airopack and roll-on deodorants present eco-friendlier substitutes to aerosols, reducing their environmental impact.

Other sustainable choices include non-aerosol dispensing systems, refillable spray containers, and air and fabric refreshers in spray form. Opting for these green alternatives allows people to lessen the environmental effects of aerosol cans while retaining the products’ convenience and efficacy.

The Importance of Responsible Aerosol Disposal

Ensuring responsible aerosol disposal is vital for both environmental protection and safety. Aerosol cans house chemicals that, if improperly discarded, can harm the environment. Incorrectly disposing of these cans can lead to air and water contamination and the release of harmful chemicals.

Moreover, mishandling aerosol cans presents safety threats to both humans and wildlife. These cans can explode if not managed correctly, releasing dangerous chemicals. By responsibly disposing of aerosol cans, we can reduce these hazards and safeguard the environment and public health.

Environmental Impact

Recycling aerosol cans offers several benefits:

  • Resource conservation
  • Decreased landfill waste
  • Reduced need for raw materials
  • Diminished environmental footprint
  • Less energy consumption in manufacturing new cans

Recycling aerosol cans promotes a greener, more sustainable environment. The more we recycle, the less waste goes to landfills, preserving our natural resources for the future.

Safety Concerns

Correct aerosol can disposal addresses safety concerns related to their contents, pressure, and volatility. If exposed to heat or fire, the pressurized and volatile contents of aerosol cans can explode. Their propellants are highly flammable and can ignite if near an open flame.

Responsible disposal reduces these safety concerns, ensuring that harmful chemicals don’t contaminate our environment, protecting both humans and wildlife.

Legal Obligations for Businesses and Homeowners

Both businesses and homeowners must legally dispose of hazardous waste, including aerosol cans, responsibly. Meeting these legal standards ensures the safe and responsible handling of hazardous waste, reducing the environmental and safety risks linked to aerosol cans.

By adhering to proper disposal practices and collaborating with waste management firms, businesses and homeowners can guarantee the appropriate recycling of their aerosol cans, eliminating potential environmental and safety threats.

Creative Uses for Empty Aerosol Cans

You can creatively repurpose empty aerosol cans for various DIY or upcycling projects, reducing waste. Some innovative ideas include:

  • Crafting unique artwork or lamp stands
  • Using them as storage for small items
  • Turning them into decorative vases or candle holders
  • Upcycling them into plant pots
  • Making them into light fixtures
  • Creating DIY party favors or gift containers
  • Organizing craft or office supplies

Repurposing empty aerosol cans reduces waste and promotes sustainability. These creative endeavors not only breathe new life into discarded items but also highlight how small steps can make a big environmental difference.


This article emphasized the significance of responsible aerosol disposal and the various recycling and repurposing methods available. By adhering to proper disposal practices and considering sustainable aerosol alternatives, we can reduce the environmental and safety risks of these common items.

Everyone, from individuals to businesses and homeowners, has a part in preserving our environment and ensuring hazardous waste’s safe disposal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you dispose of unused aerosol cans?

Empty aerosol cans should be recycled with other cans/tins, while partially or completely full aerosols should be separated from recyclables and general waste as hazardous materials.

Make sure to remove any loose or easily removable parts, such as the lid, before disposal.

Can you recycle full aerosol cans UK?

Aerosol cans that are full or partially full should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of at a specialist recycling facility.

All other parts should be separated and put into the correct bank at your local recycling centre.

Can aerosols be put in the bin?

Empty aerosol cans can be placed in regular recycling bins for cans and tins.

Partially or completely full aerosols must be taken to a local recycling facility or hazardous waste collection.

How do I know if my local council offers kerbside pickup for aerosol cans?

Contact your local council to ask about their recycling programs and find out if they offer kerbside pickup for aerosol cans.

Many councils have programs in place to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and kerbside pickup for aerosol cans is one of the services they may offer. Check with your local council.

Are there any dangers associated with recycling aerosol cans?

Yes, there are potential dangers associated with recycling aerosol cans, such as explosions if exposed to fire or high temperatures. Thus proper handling is necessary.