EPA adds aerosol cans to universal waste regulations to boost recycling

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalised a ‘streamlined system’ for managing hazardous waste aerosol cans. The EPA estimates that the rule, which will ease regulatory burdens on establishments and promote the collection and recycling of aerosol cans, will save between $5.3 million (€4.7 million) and $47.8 million (€43.2 million) annually in regulatory costs.

Effectively, the EPA is adding hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste programme under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. According to the EPA, the change will benefit ‘the wide variety of establishments’ that generate and manage hazardous waste aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a ‘clear, protective system’ for managing discarded aerosols.

With this rule, the EPA is adding hazardous waste aerosol cans to the list of materials that can be managed under the RCRA’s universal waste management system. The system was established to streamline hazardous waste management in certain categories that are commonly generated by a wide variety of establishments; for example hazardous waste batteries, waste pesticides and equipment containing mercury

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “Today’s [15 November] rule will benefit approximately 25,000 facilities across numerous industries such as the retail, construction, and manufacturing sectors. The simplified structure of the universal waste program will help improve regulatory compliance, make aerosol can collection more economical, and facilitate the environmentally-sound recycling of this common waste stream.”

In a statement, the EPA said it anticipates that this final rule will encourage greater consistency for the regulated community, as several states already include aerosol cans in their universal waste programmes. It said: “The final rule offers a more uniform, nationwide handling system and furthers our effective partnerships with states and tribes by making it easier for states to add this waste stream to their universal waste programmes.”

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