In the 1940s, the paint industry took another step forward with the invention of the aerosol can. Originally developed by the military as a tool to dispense insecticide, aerosol systems were quickly adapted to other product categories including spray paint. Using similar technology and equipment, a few years later they became the first commercial producers of spray paint.
Since its birth in the 1950s, the spray paint industry has enjoyed
considerable success but has also met with many challenges. In the late
1970s, legislators banned paints from using chlorofluorocarbon propellants
(CFCs) due to the role these solvents are though to play in atmospheric
ozone depletion. In the late 1990s, the California Air Resource Board
(CARB) began imposing limits on the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds
(VOCs) that can be used in spray paint.
VOCs have been shown to contribute
to air pollution. These regulatory mandates have dramatically affected the
quality of spray paint formulations. In spite of these challenges, spray
paints continue to be popular consumer commodities. In 1997 nearly 25
million gal (94 million 1) of spray paint where produced in the United
Although some of these materials alone are recyclable, the mixture of them constitutes a product that is generally considered household hazardous waste by conventional standards.
The can is
sealed with a valve that controls how the paint is dispensed. The top of
the valve is a button that controls the shape of the spray; it is attached
to the valve body that acts as a mixing chamber for the liquid paint
concentrate and the propellant. At the bottom of the valve a plastic tube
is attached that carries the paint upward from the bottom of the can
Single stream recycling, as a general rule, requests that the materials be rinsed clean of food and debris. Since spray paint cans are an enclosed item, it is virtually impossible to rinse the excess paint from the inside of the can. Once an aerosol can is processed by a Household Hazardous Waste facility, some of the components of the can are able to be recycled.
For more information on recyclable materials and household hazardous waste visit www.wasteawaygroup.com.