Are Spray Paint Cans Recyclable?

Spray paint cans can be recycled, but it’s important to check with your local recycling center first to see if they accept them. Here’s what you need to know about recycling spray paint cans.

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The recycling process of spray paint cans begins with the collection of used or empty cans. Once collected, the cans are taken to a recycling center where they are cleaned and inspected. After passing inspection, the cans are then crushed and melted down to be used in the production of new metal products.

The Recycling Process

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to learn how the recycling process works. Recyclable materials are collected and brought to a facility where they are sorted by type. Once sorted, the recyclables are cleaned and processed into raw materials that can be used to create new products.

Now that you know how recycling works, you might be wondering which items can actually be recycled. The list of recyclable materials is always growing, but some common items that can be recycled include aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes.

One item that may surprise you is spray paint cans. While it’s true that most recycling facilities cannot recycle spray paint cans, there are some that can. The best way to find out if your local facility can recycle spray paint cans is to give them a call or visit their website.

When it comes to recycling, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you’re not sure whether an item can be recycled, it’s better to throw it in the trash than risk contaminating an entire load of recyclables.

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The Benefits of Recycling

As anyone who’s ever toted an empty paint can to the recycling bin knows, recycling often feels like more trouble than it’s worth. But the benefits of recycling far outweigh the inconvenience: not only does recycling conserve resources and reduce pollution, but it also reduces energy consumption and supports American industry.

When you recycle a paint can, you conserve both the resources used to make the can and the valuable paint inside it. Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours! And because making new products from recycled materials requires less energy than making products from scratch, recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

In addition to being good for the environment, recycling is also good for the economy. Every year, Americans generate millions of tons of waste—but we recycle and reuse less than a third of it. If we recycled all of our trash, we could save enough energy to power more than 24 million homes! When you recycle your paint cans, you help support American industry—recycling facilities in the United States process more than 90 million tons of recyclable materials every year.

So next time you’re about to toss an empty paint can in the trash, think again: recycling is easy, convenient, and good for both the environment and the economy.

The Impact of Recycling

The process of recycling aluminum cans (often referred to as “beverage cans”) is straightforward. They are crushed and then melted down so that they can be cast into new aluminum products. But what about spray paint cans? Are they recyclable?

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It turns out that the answer is a bit complicated. While most types of paint cans are made from steel, which can be recycled, spray paint cans are a different story. They are typically made from aluminum, which means they can be recycled… but only if they are empty.

So, if you have an empty spray paint can, make sure to recycle it! But if it still has paint in it, you’ll need to dispose of it as hazardous waste.

The Economics of Recycling

The economics of recycling can be complex. In order to make money from recycling, there needs to be a market for the recyclable material. The value of the recyclable material must be greater than the cost to collect and process it. Sometimes, the market for a particular recyclable material may not be strong enough and it actually costs more money to recycle the material than it is worth.

The value of recyclable materials depends on many factors, such as:
– The type of material
– The quality of the material
– The quantity of the material available
– The distance the material has to travel to get to the market
– The cost of labor
– The cost of energy
– The cost of transportation

The Future of Recycling

Most people assume that because something can be recycled, it will be. However, this isn’t always the case. The recycling process is complicated and ever-changing, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on what can and can’t be recycled. For example, did you know that most spray paint cans cannot be recycled?

Here’s what you need to know about recycling spray paint cans:

· Most spray paint cans are made of steel or aluminum.
· Steel and aluminum cans can be recycled, but they must be empty.
· If a can is not empty, it will be rejected by the recycling center.
· If a can is half full or less, you can try to recycle it by taking it to a special facility that accepts hazardous waste.
· If a can is more than half full, you should dispose of it in the trash.

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The bottom line is that recycling spray paint cans can be complicated. The best thing you can do is to make sure your cans are completely empty before you attempt to recycle them.


-Most recycling programs accept empty aerosable aerosable containment System (CPS) #2 cans- typically used for aerosable products like spray paint.
-Some programs may not recycle empty CPS #1 cans- typically used for food or beverage products.
-Due to the Hazardoous Material Regulations, full or partially full cans of paint, primer or stains must be disposed at a local household hazardous waste drop-off site.


Yes, spray paint cans are recyclable. But, before you recycle your spray paint cans, make sure that the paint is completely dry and that the can is empty. Once the can is dry and empty, remove the label and any attachments, such as the nozzle, and recycle it with your other metal items.


-Aluminum Association. “Recycling.” (2018): n. pag. Web.
-Nope, You Can’t Recycle Aerosol Cans – Here’s Why. “The Balance Small Business.” The Balance, 18 Oct. 2018,

About the Author

Are Spray Paint Cans Recyclable? is written by William Perez. William is a recycling and waste management consultant.

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