EPA is seeking comments to the proposed rule regulating aerosol cans as universal waste.   The comment period ends May 15, 2018, and Kentucky has provided a 30-day notice that it will incorporate the regulation as finalized by EPA.

If your company currently punctures and recycles the cans, you should read the proposed rule in the Federal Register.  Under the proposed rule, aerosol cans could be punctured if the following conditions are met:

    1. Punctured aerosol cans are recycled.
    2. Puncturing is conducted using a device specifically designed to safely puncture aerosol cans and contain residual contents and air emissions.
    3. A written procedure is established detailing safe puncturing measures, including a copy of the puncturing device manufacturer instructions, and spill/release response.
    4. Employees operating the puncturing device are trained in the proper procedures.
    5. Puncturing is performed in a manner designed to prevent fires and releases into the environment, including locating the equipment on a solid, flat surface in a well-ventilated area.
    6. Contents from the punctured aerosol can are transferred to a container or tank meeting RCRA standards for the applicable generator category.
    7. A hazardous waste determination is conducted for the emptied aerosol can contents.
    8. A spill kit is provided.

As a universal waste, the cans could be managed in a way that prevents a release into the environment, with accumulation of the aerosol cans in a container that is structurally sound and compatible with the contents of the aerosol cans. There is no specific closed-container requirements. The rule would allow for sorting of aerosol cans by type, consolidating intact cans in larger containers, and removing nozzles to reduce risk of accidental release.  As with other universal wastes, you would be able to accumulate the aerosol cans for up to a year.

Karen Thompson is a CHMM and Professional Geologist with Smith Management Group.  She can be reached at karent@smithmanage.com.