Disposing of aerosol spray cans poses special risks to workers and the environment. The contents of spray cans are under pressure, often toxic, and may be flammable. Because of these risks, businesses must dispose of cans and their contents properly. Aerosol cans do not have to be disposed of as dangerous waste once you completely empty them through normal use.
Empty your container
Empty aerosol cans do not have to be disposed of as dangerous waste once you completely empty them. Do not deliberately spray out contents just to empty the can. Instead, use the aerosol product for its intended purpose.
- Containers holding compressed gases are empty when the pressure inside the container is equal or nearly equal to atmospheric pressure; and
- The contents are completely sprayed out and minimal or no product remains in the can.
Recycle empty cans
Recycle empty cans as scrap metal. Take them to a scrap metal recycling facility.
Disposing of cans with dangerous contents
You have two options for disposing cans with dangerous contents:
- You can send the can with its contents to a permitted hazardous waste service provider.
- You can also choose to remove the dangerous waste and then dispose of the container separately. Usually, businesses will do this so they have less dangerous waste to dispose of.
To do this:
- First, puncture the can with a commercial puncturing device.
- Drain and collect the contents, and manage as dangerous waste.
- Properly label the collection container used to hold the contents, and keep it closed when not in use.
- If pouring into a funnel, remove the drained aerosol can promptly (keep the container closed when you're not adding to it). Replace and latch funnel lids.
Aerosol food products
Empty or partially full cans with no dangerous contents (for example, aerosol food products) are not considered dangerous waste. Do not put partially full cans in the trash. They are pressurized and may explode if crushed or heated. Empty the can through normal use, then dispose into your recycling collection.