The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated its intent to issue a proposed rule that is intended to simplify the regulation of hazardous waste aerosol cans by adding them to the list of materials that can be managed under the Universal Waste management system. Some states, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah have already added aerosol cans to their Universal Waste lists. Adding aerosol cans to the list of Universal Wastes would ease the RCRA burden on generators in the two top economic sectors with the largest percentage of potentially affected entities, the retail trade industry and manufacturing.
Currently the U.S. EPA regulates nonempty aerosol cans as RCRA hazardous wastes in the same manner as other hazardous wastes; that is, hazardous waste aerosol cans are basically subject to the same requirements as drums of hazardous waste, including limitations on accumulation time and volume, manifesting, disposal requirements, employee training, and response to releases. That is, aerosol cans are regulated as hazardous waste when discarded. Aerosol cans can be excluded from the definition of hazardous waste, but only if they meet certain strict requirements.
Hazardous waste batteries, certain hazardous waste pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and hazardous waste mercury lamps are already regulated as Universal Wastes. In general, materials managed as universal waste can be stored for 1 year or longer, and do not require a manifest when shipped, provided they are properly labeled, packaged and stored. Universal wastes also do not need to be counted toward a hazardous waste generator’s inventory for determining whether the generator is classified as a very small quantity generator, small quantity generator, or large quantity generator.
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