American Coatings Association


ACA Submits Comments to EPA on Proposal to Designate Aerosol Cans as Universal Waste


On May 15, ACA submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the agency’s proposal to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the universal waste program under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. In a pre-publication notice signed March 5 by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency said, “this proposed change, once finalized, would benefit the wide variety of establishments generating and managing hazardous waste aerosol cans, including the retail sector, by providing a clear, protective system for managing discarded aerosol cans.”

ACA’s comments supported the proposal, and the agency’s efforts to maintain a consistent definition for “aerosol can” with definitions used in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah universal waste programs. However, ACA did stress its wish that EPA not include a size limit of twenty-four (24) ounces or any other limitation on the types of aerosol cans that would be eligible under this rule. ACA underscored that the definition of aerosol can under Utah’s universal waste program includes a size limitation of twenty-four (24) ounces; but pointed out that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) already limits the capacity of an aerosol container to one (1) liter. Since aerosol cans would need to follow this limitation to be transported as a product, ACA argued it is not necessary to duplicate the limitation in EPA’s proposed rule.

Under the proposed reclassification, aerosol cans, pressurized or spent — including spray paint cans — would be treated and handled as universal waste. In 1995, EPA promulgated the universal waste rule to establish a streamlined hazardous waste management system for widely generated hazardous wastes to encourage environmentally sound collection and proper management of the wastes within the system. Hazardous waste batteries, certain hazardous waste pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and hazardous waste lamps are already included on the federal list of universal wastes. The universal waste regulations in 40 CFR part 273 are a set of alternative hazardous waste management standards that operate in lieu of regulation under 40 CFR parts 260 through 272 for specified hazardous wastes.

The streamlined universal waste regulations are expected to ease regulatory burdens on retail stores and others that discard hazardous waste aerosol cans; promote the collection and recycling of these cans; and encourage the development of municipal and commercial programs to reduce the quantity of these wastes going to municipal solid waste landfills or combustors.

Notably, six states, California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah already have universal waste aerosol can programs in place; and two more states, Ohio and Minnesota, already have aerosol can universal waste programs in place. The universal waste programs in all these states include streamlined management standards like 40 CFR part 273 for small and large quantity handlers of universal waste, and a one-year accumulation time limit for the aerosol cans. In addition, the state universal waste programs set standards for puncturing and draining of aerosol cans by universal waste handlers.

ACA’s comments also urged EPA to add paint and paint-related wastes to the federal universal waste program. ACA believes that “paint and paint-related waste” meets the factors that describe hazardous waste that is appropriate for management under the streamlined universal waste system.

More information on EPA’s Universal Waste Program may be found here.

Contact ACA’s Xavier Ferrier or Rhett Cash for more information.


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