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Aerosol Recycling Initiative details environmental, economic benefits of aerosol recycling

Somebody sprays an aerosol can
The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) launched an aerosol recycling initiative in May 2022. Pixabay

The Aerosol Recycling Initiative has published an executive summary of a white paper that will be released in May 2024. The summary details the campaign's initial phase activities and recycling data gathered for the aerosol can.

The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) and the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) launched an aerosol recycling initiative in May 2022. The initiative aims to make recycling aerosol cans easier for the end-user by achieving two quantitative goals by 2030:

Reach at least an 85 percent recycling access rate for aerosol cans in the U.S. market.
Label at least 90 percent of aerosol cans as recyclable with messaging about how to properly recycle these products.

Despite recent concerns regarding the recyclability of aerosol cans, the initiative's research has shown that these products can benefit communities, the economy, and the environment when incorporated as part of a broader waste management system that includes reduction and reuse.

From an economic standpoint, a 50 percent recycling rate of aerosol cans generates more than $39 million yearly. Environmentally, recycling just one aerosol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of driving 0.5 miles in the average gasoline-powered passenger vehicle or charging 13 smartphones.

"Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions surrounding aerosol cans that make people question the safety of recycling these products," said Scott Breen, CMI's senior vice president of sustainability. "The purpose of this initiative is to help clarify these misunderstandings and enhance the aerosol can's recycling story. Aerosol cans are made from aluminum and steel, which can be infinitely recycled and have ready-end markets, making these products extremely valuable in recycling streams. We thought it would be especially impactful to publish this research on Earth Day to showcase how recycling aerosols can help drive positive action for the planet."

"While very important, explaining the aerosol can's recycling story is only one piece of the puzzle," said Nicholas Georges, HCPA's senior vice president of scientific & international affairs. "There is still work to be done to increase recycling access rates for aerosols and to educate consumers about how to properly recycle these products. The second phase of this campaign will tackle this challenge by engaging material recovery facilities, municipalities, and retailers on aerosol recycling access and collaborating with companies that manufacture and sell aerosol products to make certain label changes that include language on recyclability and how to recycle."

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