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Aerosol Cans May Be Added to Universal Waste Program



On March 16, 2018, EPA published a proposed rule that would add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program found in Part 273. [83 FR 11654] Aerosol cans are generated by nearly every business in every industry, and this proposed rule is aimed at improving recycling and reducing the cost of aerosol can management. The agency has provided a summary of the proposed rule and is accepting comments on the proposed rule until May 15, 2018.

Aerosol cans frequently contain flammable propellants such as propane or butane that can cause them to exhibit the ignitability characteristic. An aerosol can may also contain product materials that exhibit hazardous characteristics. Similarly, a discarded aerosol can may also be a P/U-listed hazardous waste if it contains a commercial chemical product found at §261.33(e) or (f). [83 FR 11656]

EPA believes aerosol cans meet the eight evaluation factors for inclusion in the universal waste program. [§273.81] One of the primary factors considered is that five existing state universal waste programs already include aerosol cans (California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah). Waste management officials in those states indicate that their programs are operating well and achieving their objective of facilitating safe management and recycling of hazardous waste aerosol cans.

Proposed Universal Waste Aerosol Can Management Standards

A universal waste aerosol can would be defined in §273.9 as “an intact container in which gas under pressure is used to aerate and dispense any material through a valve in the form of a spray or foam.” However, new §273.6 would exclude aerosol cans from the universal waste program that 1) are not yet waste, 2) are not hazardous waste, 3) meet the standard for an empty container at §261.7, or 4) are damaged so that leakage could occur. EPA intends that hazardous waste aerosol cans that are not intact continue to be subject to the full hazardous waste standards. [83 FR 11660]

In general, the proposed requirements for universal waste aerosol cans would be the same as those that are in effect for existing universal wastes: handlers would be able to accumulate aerosol cans onsite for up to 1 year and not have to inspect aerosol can containers or use a manifest/LDR form for offsite shipments. The proposed rule would add management standards for small and large quantity handlers of universal waste aerosol cans in §§273.13 and 273.33, respectively, that:

  • Require 1) management of universal waste aerosol cans in a way that prevents a release into the environment, and 2) accumulation of the aerosol cans in a container that is structurally sound and compatible with the contents of the aerosol cans. Note that there would be no specific closed-container requirements.
  • Allow for sorting of aerosol cans by type, consolidating intact cans in larger containers, and removing nozzles to reduce risk of accidental release.
  • Allow aerosol can puncturing provided that:
    1. Emptied, punctured aerosol cans are recycled.
    2. Puncturing is conducted using a device specifically designed to safely puncture aerosol cans and contain residual contents and air emissions.
    3. A written procedure is established detailing safe puncturing measures, including a copy of the puncturing device manufacturer instructions, and spill/release response.
    4. Employees operating the puncturing device are trained in the proper procedures.
    5. Puncturing is performed in a manner designed to prevent fires and releases into the environment, including locating the equipment on a solid, flat surface in a well-ventilated area.
    6. Contents from the punctured aerosol can are transferred to a container or tank meeting RCRA standards for the applicable generator category (i.e., meeting §§262.14–17).
    7. A hazardous waste determination is conducted for the emptied aerosol can contents.
    8. A spill kit is provided.

State Adoption

Because this rule would make the federal RCRA program less stringent, states would not be required to adopt the proposed provisions. Thus, facilities would not be able to manage aerosol cans as universal wastes until their state adopts the rule. (However, as noted above, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah have already added aerosol cans to their state universal waste programs.)

While individual households and very small quantity generators do not have to comply with the universal waste regulations, EPA encourages their participation if this rule is finalized. [83 FR 11659]




rosol Cans May Be Added to Universal Waste Program.” RCRA Review: Aerosol Cans May Be Added to Universal Waste Program, 16 Apr. 2018, www.mccoyseminars.com/newsletter/article.cfm?artnum=301.