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EPA proposes aerosol can recycling system

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a system for handling hazardous waste of aerosol cans that encourages recycling. EPA estimates it will also save at least $3 million per year in regulatory costs.

“Today’s proposal increases opportunities for safe recycling of aerosol cans while also simplifying hazardous waste regulations,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says. “We remain committed to protecting human health and the environment while also providing regulatory certainty to American businesses.”

EPA’s proposal adds aerosol cans to the list of materials that can be managed under the universal waste management system. Hazardous waste batteries, certain hazardous waste pesticides, equipment containing mercury and hazardous waste mercury lamps are already included on the federal list of universal wastes.

Aerosol cans are widely used for dispensing products such as paints, solvents, pesticides, food and personal care products. The Consumer Specialty Products Association, Washington, estimates that 3.82 billion aerosol cans were filled in the U.S. in 2015 for use by commercial and industrial facilities and households.

The EPA’s website says the proposal is designed to ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and other aerosol can consumers, promote the collection and recycling of aerosol cans and encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of aerosol cans going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors.

A few states have added hazardous waste aerosol cans to their state universal waste programs. EPA says it is using those state programs as models for the proposed rule.

The 60-day comment period will open upon the forthcoming publication of the proposed universal waste aerosol can rule in the Federal Register. More information about the universal waste management system is available at www.epa.gov/hw/universal-waste.