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EPA Proposes to Classify Aerosol Cans as Universal Waste

Monday, March 26, 2018

On March 16, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that would classify aerosol cans as universal waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), easing management standards for the aerosol cans. Currently, most non-empty aerosol cans are classified as a hazardous waste under RCRA either because they contain a RCRA-listed chemical or because they exhibit a hazardous characteristic, such as ignitability.

Being classified as hazardous waste means the cans are subject to more stringent regulations related to handling, transportation, and disposal. For example, you are permitted to store universal waste longer than hazardous wastes, and you are permitted to accumulate more of it. The EPA has a webpage detailing these differences.

The EPA is also proposing specific management standards requiring handlers to puncture and drain aerosol cans as a part of the recycling process, which the agency seeks to promote. Specifically, the EPA seeks to make it “more economical to send hazard waste aerosol cans to recycling for recovery of metal value,” rather than disposal as a hazardous waste.

The EPA is accepting comments on the rule until May 15, 2018.

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