Representatives of solid waste organizations, government agencies, trade associations, and the aerosol and steel industries meet at a two-day aerosol recycling conference hosted by S.C. Johnson Wax in Racine, Wisconsin the summer to discuss how best to expand the recycling of empty steel aerosol cans.
Steel aerosol cans are easy to prepare for recycling through community recycling programs. Once a steel aerosol can’s product is expended through normal use, the container is empty and may be recycled. Empty steel cans, including aerosols, are magnetically separated from the other types of recyclables at secondary processing facilities. After separation, the steel cans are baled and shipped to steel mills and foundries to be recycled.
Some basic misconceptions have hindered the steel aerosol can’s inclusion in recycling programs that already accept other forms of steel cans. The steel industry is overcoming misconceptions by providing responsible advice on the container’s ready recyclability and the steel can’s recycling strengths: ease of preparation, magnetic separation and availability of end markets.
Conference representatives concluded that the more than 4,000 curbside recycling programs already accepting empty steel food and beverage cans may easily incorporate empty steel aerosol cans. These programs would benefit from the can’s incremental scrap revenue and increased diversion from the landfill.
Currently, more than 550 communities collect empty steel aerosol cans for recycling through curbside and drop-off programs. Hundreds of additional communities automatically recycle steel aerosol cans through magnetic separation at resource recovery facilities, which typically serve large metropolitan areas.
It was also concluded at the conference that awareness efforts regarding recycling empty steel aerosol cans needs to be more effective.
Furthermore, recommended partnerships among groups with an interest in recycling, including government, private industry, and trade organizations, would increase the growth of empty steel aerosol can recycling, with the ultimate goal of inclusion in all steel can recycling programs.