Aerosol Can Recycling

Aerosol cans close up © Planet Ark

Australians purchase more than 250 million aerosol cans each year. Aerosols are used to package and dispense a vast array of liquid products - from deodorants and hair spray to cooking oil and whipped cream, and even medicines. In a typical aerosol, one fluid stored under high pressure (the propellant) is used to push or propel another fluid (the product) out of a metal can.

Aerosol cans are made from either steel or aluminium, which requires significant inputs of energy and environmental impact to manufacture. On the plus side, both metals used in aerosol cans are endlessly recyclable here in Australia.

How to Recycle Aerosol Cans in Australia

Empty aerosol cans can be recycled though almost all council recycling services in Australia, however, in 2014 more than 1 in 2 Australians (54%)* wrongly believe they aren't recyclable.

Of that 54%, just under half report being told in the past that aerosols aren't recyclable and 44% say they think the can will explode in the recycling.

The Australian Packaging Covenant reported that, in 2012-13, 40% of used steel cans (including steel aerosol cans) were recycled, while around 49% of aluminium aerosol cans were recycled.

Take action

Recycling aerosol cans is easy in Australia!

  1. Make sure the can is empty;

  2. Find out, through or your council's website, whether your local Australian council collects aerosols (most do);

  3. Leave the can intact (do not pierce or squash it), put it in the bin with your other recycling and, if possible, remove any plastic parts like lids; 

  4. Remember to recycle the aerosols you use in the bathroom, kitchen, shed and laundry.

If the aerosol can isn't empty, it should be disposed of through your council's hazardous waste program. Visit or your council website for further information.

* Reference - Seven Secrets of Successful Recyclers Report


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