• Leadership Update

EPA Proposes to Add Aerosol Cans to Federal Universal Wastes

Earlier this month, the U.S. EPA proposed to add aerosol cans to the list of Federal Universal Wastes.

See Federal Register notice and regulatory docket. This Federal proposal is driven mainly by the large quantities of aerosol cans coming from the retail sector, which are likely to contain much of their original contained material. The comment deadline is May 15, 2018. Currently, four states (CA, CO, NM, and UT) include aerosol cans in their state Universal Waste programs, and two more states (MN and OH) have proposed to do so. This Federal proposal is intended to be consistent with those programs and to be adopted by the other states.

As proposed, Federal Universal Waste aerosol cans include “all discarded, intact, non-empty hazardous waste aerosol cans”, regardless of size, but do not include compressed gas canisters and cylinders and similar containers. While this definition may be clear for aerosol cans from the retail sector (e.g., returned cans that cannot be resold), it is not necessarily clear for empty aerosol cans sent to recycling facilities because of the definitions of “discarded” and “empty”. EPA does confirm that Federally “[a]n aerosol can that meets the definition of empty container in 40 CFR 261.7 is not subject to hazardous waste regulation, and may be recycled as scrap metal”. The proposal includes specific management standards for anyone puncturing and draining these aerosol cans, including use of equipment designed to safely extract and contain their chemicals and propellants, written procedures, and employee training. The collected material is potentially hazardous waste subject to full regulation based on a hazardous waste determination.

ISRI intends to submit comments and would like to learn members’ experiences with handling aerosol cans, whether or not their state includes them in state Universal Waste. ISRI will provide another update on this rulemaking. Comments to EPA are due May 15, 2018, so members are encouraged to provide information as soon as possible to Chief Scientist/ Director of Environmental Management David Wagger, at (202) 662-8533. 

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