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To be considered empty, an aerosol can must contain NO propellant and NO product, and must be at atmospheric pressure. UNC-Chapel Hill regulates all partially empty spray cans as hazardous waste because they may still contain ignitable propellants, chlorinated solvents, flammable material or toxic substances.


  • Request a pick-up of your aerosol cans by filling out the hazardous material pickup form.
  • Contact Environment, Health and Safety at 919-962-5723 for assistance with disposal of aerosol cans.
  • Store aerosol cans in a closed container labeled as “Aerosol Cans.”
  • Return spray cans that malfunction (for example, the tip breaks off) to the manufacturer or dispose of them as hazardous waste.
  • Establish a distribution control system to limit aerosol cleaner use.
  • Consider phasing out the use of spray cans containing hazardous chemicals in your shop.
  • Consider using refillable containers that use compressed air as the propellant.


  • Do NOT discard partially empty spray cans in the trash.
  • Do NOT puncture any aerosol cans.
  • Do NOT spray aerosols in or around other solvents or parts washers. Hazardous waste contamination may result.
  • Do NOT purchase products that contain chlorofluorocarbons or hazardous chemicals.