As a nation we go through a LOT of deodorant containers – it’s a bit of a non-negotiable when it comes to personal hygiene! But with this brings a lot of waste. Diverting this from landfill is important since they are usually made from materials that will stick around for hundreds of years. Empty deodorant aerosols can, generally, be recycled at the curbside. Roll-on deodorants can be a bit more complicated when it comes to recycling due to the different plastics in individual products. Here we will take a closer look and offer some alternative options…
Can you recycle deodorant aerosol cans?
Most standard aerosol cans are made from steel which is coated by tin – this is referred to as tinplate. More expensive varieties are made from aluminum. As well as the metal part, aerosol cans also contain plastic and rubber parts such as the lid and the tube.
The metals in all common deodorant aerosol types can be recycled. In fact, it is highly likely that the can actually contains recycled metals. The small component parts – the plastic and rubber – are separated from the can during the process. Do not pierce the can to remove them, the recycling facility will deal with that!
Recycling is the best way to dispose of your used aerosol cans. Metals are not biodegradable, so composting is not an option. Popping them in the recycling bin diverts them from landfill. If they ended up in landfill, like many other materials, they will spend several decades. It is likely that deodorant cans that you have put in the trash many years ago will still be there – in fact, they will probably outlive you! With the ever-growing landfill pile, it’s more important than ever to dispose of your items responsibly.
The main condition that applies to recycling any aerosol can, including deodorant cans, is that they must be empty. If an aerosol is still partially filled or full it regarded as hazardous. Due to being pressurized, under certain conditions it could potentially explode. It is therefore extremely important that deodorant cans are empty when they go to recycling – or in the trash – to avoid this danger. It may be tempting to some people to pierce a hole in the can – but you must not do this in any circumstances. The same goes for burning or crushing aerosol cans. To empty it, simply spray the contents into the trash. Keep spraying until you hear that distinctive hiss-like sound.
As with all recycling, rules vary from country to country and region to region. For example, some may want you to remove the lid of the aerosol, while other recycling plants won’t have that requirement. Check with you local recycling center if you have any concerns about their requirements.
Can you recycle roll-on/stick deodorants?
Roll-on deodorants – and the stick variety – are a bit more complicated. These are largely made from plastics, however, there can be a couple of different varieties of plastic in a single product. This makes it far more awkward to deal with at the recycling center. For this reason, they are sometimes not accepted in standard curbside collections. Again, if you have any queries, it is always best to contact the recycling authority in your area.
If roll-on/stick deodorant containers are not accepted in your curbside collection, there may be other options in your area. In the UK, TerraCycle have teamed up with Garnier® and L’Oréal Paris to form a free recycling service for beauty and care products including roll-on deodorant containers. You can drop-off your items at a designated spot in your area. Or create an account with TerraCycle and when you have a box full of permitted items you can send them in using a prepaid shipping label. It couldn’t be easier!
Are there more eco-friendly deodorant alternatives?
There are some other alternatives available if you want an easy life when it comes to recycling – but don’t want to use aerosols. And we don’t mean that you need to stop using deodorants! There are lots of different options available – but these tend not to be on the typical grocery store shelves yet unfortunately (and can be quite pricey).
Some brands have opted for easily recyclable cardboard deodorant containers (see Your Nature and Earth Conscious). Others have tried something completely different. Akt, a UK brand, have developed a deodorant balm which comes in a fully-recyclable aluminum tube. Go check them out!
The bottom line
Some deodorant containers are more easily recycled than others. Aerosol cans are, typically, accepted in curbside collections whilst mixed-plastic roll-ons can often be sent away to a more specialized recycling center such as the one that TerraCycle offers in the UK. More eco-friendly options are available in the form of cardboard tubed deodorants and other plastic-free alternatives such as aluminum tubes.