Sustainable Aerosols: Materials, Recycling, and Environment

Aerosol sprays have been a convenient way to deliver cosmetic, medical, and food products for both consumers and industrial purposes.

Bag-on-valve aerosols provide even more benefits, allowing for a better spraying system while reducing environmental footprint.

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Environmental sustainability and aerosols may sound like a contradiction at first due to old misconceptions, but the U.S aerosol industry is taking a proactive stance to ensure aerosols meet and exceed government standards.

The Early Green Beginnings of Aerosols

The first aerosols were used widely during World War II to stave off diseases like Malaria while in the South Pacific. Consumer applications soon followed. These aerosols used propellants that contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which have been linked to the decaying ozone layer.

However, since the 1970’s, consumer aerosols have not contained CFCs, and many companies voluntarily removed CFCs from their products before the U.S government enacted the Clean Air Act in 1978.

Now, regular aerosol sprays use compressed gases that do not damage the ozone layer. Furthermore, bag-on-valve aerosol sprays only use environmentally friendly oxygen or nitrogen as a propellant.

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The Many Recycling Options for Aerosols

A recent industry study reports that about 70% of Americans have the resources available to recycle empty aerosol containers either for curb side pick-up or at nearby recycling facilities.

“Many consumers aren’t sure whether their empty aerosol containers can be recycled,” says D. Douglas Fratz, CSPA Aerosol Products Division Staff Executive.

The findings of this study and other reports help organizations such as The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), The Aluminum Association (TAA), the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI), and the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) create plans to boost consumer education on aerosol recycling programs. The CSPA encourages aerosol manufacturers to include “Please Recycle When Empty” labels to aerosol packages to help increase recycling awareness.

The CSPA “estimates that in 2015, approximately 3.8 billion aerosol containers were filled in the U.S., approximately 80% of which were steel containers and 20% aluminum containers.” After use, both steel and aluminum can be reused for other items such as appliances or even new aerosol containers.

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The Sustainable Design Benefits of Aerosols

Aerosols, especially bag-on-valve aerosol products, are continually innovated to provide more sustainable products for consumers. Bag-on-valve technology does not require flammable propellants, and only uses regular oxygen or nitrogen.

Also, this specific type of aerosol device completely separates the product and propellant resulting in better preservation of the liquid or crème. Better preservation means fewer chemicals and preservatives are needed to maintain freshness. Another benefit of bag-on-valve aerosols is the design ensures up to 100% product emptying resulting in less product waste.

Aerosols have almost unlimited possibilities for packaging everything from solutions, liquid, creams, and ointments. Many industries served such as pharmaceutical and beauty use aerosols because they are safe and effective. Despite dated misconceptions, aerosols are an environmentally sustainable packaging option suitable for both consumers and manufacturers.