Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Guidelines for Management of Waste Aerosol Cans


Clayton State uses a wide variety of products (cleaners, paints, pesticides) that come in aerosol cans (spray cans). Aerosol cans contain both the product and a pressurized propellant. In most cases, these products may have hazardous characteristics, such ignitability (e.g. paints, lubricants) or toxicity (e.g. pesticides, chlorinated cleaning products). In addition, most propellants are mixtures of ignitable gases, such as propane and butane. Since the aerosol cans are pressurized they present a safety hazard if not properly managed.


The purpose of this procedure is to assist Clayton State employees who generate aerosol can waste with a guideline on accumulation, processing and disposal of aerosol cans and their contents.

Which Aerosol Cans are Regulated as Hazardous Waste?

Disposing of an aerosol can that still has product inside the can in the regular trash can be considered improper disposal of hazardous waste. To ensure compliance with hazardous waste regulations, non-empty aerosol cans should be collected and managed as hazardous wastes.

  • A discarded aerosol can is a hazardous waste if the can and its contents exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic or if it is a listed hazardous waste.
  • An empty aerosol can which is not fully depressurized is regulated as a reactive characteristic hazardous waste.
  • Waste aerosol cans determined to be a hazardous waste or that are not fully depressurized, should be managed according to the University’s hazardous waste management requirements.

Which Aerosol Cans are not Regulated as Hazardous Waste?

  • Aerosol cans that are still in use and that contain usable product are not yet considered wastes.
  • Aerosol cans that are empty and fully depressurized or, depressurized aerosol cans that contain materials that are not themselves hazardous wastes may be recycled or disposed as a solid waste.

Puncturing Aerosol Cans

  • Aerosol can puncturing devices may be used to completely empty aerosol cans and render them non-reactive (depressurized).
  • An aerosol puncturing system is a cost-effective and safe way to minimize costs associated with the disposal of non-empty aerosol cans.
  • These systems use an airtight puncturing device to safely puncture aerosol cans and drain the contents into a container, such as a 55-gallon drum.
  • The propellants are treated through a series of filters prior to discharge.
  • Once empty, the cans are considered scrap metal and can be recycled or disposed.
  • The consolidated contents can be shipped off for proper disposal as hazardous waste.
  • Prior to puncturing, aerosol cans must be safely stored. Pressurized aerosol cans should be stored in an accumulation container that is in good condition and capable of preventing a release if a can leaks.
  • The accumulation container should be closed when not adding or removing cans and labeled as containing waste aerosol cans for puncturing. It should be located at or near the can punching operation and can not exceed 55 gallons in capacity

Aerosol Cans not punctured

Aerosol cans not punctured and drained will need to be evaluated to determine if they are a listed or characteristic hazardous waste. If you generate waste aerosol cans, please do not dispose of the can in the regular trash. Instead, put the cans in a separate container and contact Facilities Management at (678) 466-4240.