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Disposing of aerosols: how to do it safely

  Wednesday, 21 September 2016

It’s estimated that the UK uses around 600 million aerosols each year: this is a substantial figure, amounting to more than ten cans per person.

With almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of aerosols made using tin plated steel and the rest using high-grade aluminium, aerosols present a substantial opportunity in the metal recycling world. Indeed, it is estimated that around 30,000 tonnes of metal could be reclaimed each year from aerosol cans alone.

However, many people are still a little unsure how to go about safely disposing aerosols: the combination of gases and metal means they can be occasionally dangerous.

Put simply, the key to safely recycling aerosols is to ensure that the cans are completely empty before they are put into banks or curb-side collections.

Some people believe that they should be segregated and concentrated into individual batches, but actually this isn’t the case. Simply mixing aerosols in with other forms of matter waste is safer: it helps to dilute the proportion of aerosols within the overall balance of a collection.

It’s also important that householders don’t pierce or squash aerosol cans before throwing them into the recycling.

The British Aerosol Manufacturers Association (BAMA) provides full guidance (PDF 36KB) on the collection and processing of both empty and full cans.

If the aerosols are either full or partly full, they need to be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of safely at a specialist recycling facility. It’s for this reason that you should always be very sure your aerosol is completely empty before putting in the recycling pile.

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