In 2019, the EPA added hazardous waste aerosol cans to the federal universal waste list, which allows generators to manage the cans with the less burdensome universal waste requirements. The final rule became effective on February 7, 2020, and applies to those who generate, transport, treat, recycle or dispose of hazardous waste aerosol cans. Under the universal waste rule, generators and handlers can store cans for a year and manage all aerosols together provided they are punctured and drained of any free liquid. (Note that the collected liquid from draining the aerosol cans will likely be considered hazardous waste.) Aerosol cans no longer need to be burned in a Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste incineration facility and shipped by hazardous waste transporters or tracked via a manifest.
As of December 2020, State implementation of the rule is as follows:
- Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania have adopted the EPA Final Rule
- California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah had aerosol cans listed as Universal Waste prior to the Federal Final Rule
- New Jersey and Texas had categories of aerosols listed as Universal Waste prior to the Federal Final Rule
- Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont and Wyoming have a timeline for adoption that has been announced/shared
- For the remaining states, no timeline for adoption has been announced/shared
States are not required to implement this rule change.
In addition to the general universal waste management standards that apply to all universal waste, EPA outlines specific standards for puncturing and draining aerosol cans. The puncturing and draining of aerosol cans must be conducted by a commercial device designed to safely puncture the cans and effectively contain the residual contents as well as any emissions from the puncturing and draining activities. The universal waste handlers must establish written procedures for safely puncturing and draining the cans and ensure that employees operating the device are trained in the proper procedures. The aerosol can universal waste programs in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah allow for puncturing and draining of aerosol cans by universal waste handlers, as long as specific management standards and waste characterization requirements are met.
If you have questions regarding waste regulations in your state, our environmental compliance team can help to clear up any confusion or assist you with establishing and documenting waste programs –