Completely empty aerosol containers and empty paint containers may often be recycled at the curb along with other materials such as paper, bottles and cans. To inquire if you may dispose of empty paint or aerosol containers with your regular recycling service, contact your city or county recycling coordinator or your solid waste service provider.
Many leftover paint products sold in containers of five gallons or less can be dropped-off for recycling at many retail and other collection sites throughout California, as a result of the State of California’s Architectural Paint Recovery Program. The program establishes statewide requirements to ensure that leftover paint is properly managed in a manner that is sustainably funded. The program does not cover aerosol paints.
Aerosol containers are generally made of steel, which is easily recycled; however, full or partially-full aerosol containers cannot be placed at the curb because they are under pressure and may pose a hazard to solid waste workers and others. The best bet with aerosols is to completely use up the contents of the can, including the propellant. If this cannot be safely done, the product should be disposed at your local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection site or at a locally sponsored HHW event. Contact your local recycling coordinator for information about your local HHW facility or an upcoming HHW collection event in your area.
For More Information
The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) regulations (Title 22, California Code of Regulations, Section 66261.7), cover the recycling/disposal of full or partially full aerosol containers and paint cans. See also the DTSC web page for guidance on disposing aerosol cans.
DTSC produced a fact sheet which provides information on managing aerosol cans as "Universal Waste."
PaintCare is a non-profit organization established by the American Coatings Association to implement California’s Paint Stewardship Law (Public Resources Code Section 48700-48706). PaintCare established convenient drop-off locations at retailers and other sites throughout California where consumers can recycle leftover paint products at no charge.
The Consumer Aerosol Products Council is an industry-sponsored group which provides information about aerosol can recycling.
Earth 911 provides a handy search tool for locating local facilities accepting HHW and other items, including aerosol and paint containers.