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Hazardous Waste

Increasing Recycling: Adding Aerosol Cans to the Universal Waste Regulations

Rule Summary

Aerosol cans are widely used for dispensing a broad range of products including paints, solvents, pesticides, food and personal care products, and many others. The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) estimates that 3.82 billion aerosol cans were filled in the United States in 2015 for use by commercial and industrial facilities as well as by households. Aerosol cans can account for nearly 40 percent of retail items that are managed as hazardous waste at large retail facilities. 

This is a picture of several silver aerosol cans without tops.EPA is proposing to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to those “universal wastes” regulated under title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 273. This change in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, once finalized, will reduce regulatory costs of a wide variety of establishments generating and managing aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, practical system for handling discarded aerosol cans.

The streamlined Universal Waste regulations are expected to:

  • Ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and others that discard aerosol cans,
  • Promote the collection and recycling of aerosol cans, and
  • Encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of these wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors.

EPA is taking public comment on this proposal. Comments must be received on or before May 15, 2018. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-OLEM-2017-0463, at Regulations.gov

Visit the Federal Register for more information about how to comment and to view the proposed rule

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Rule History

The federal Universal Waste program, established in 1995, creates a streamlined mechanism for collection and recycling of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste. Since 1995, five waste streams have been added to the federal Universal Waste program. 

A few states have already added hazardous waste aerosol cans to their state Universal Waste programs. EPA used these state programs as models for this proposed rule. 

For more information regarding the Universal Waste program including what types of wastes states have added to their state Universal Waste programs, see additional resources below.

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Additional Resources

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