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US plans big savings by including aerosol cans in waste scheme

The US Environmental Protection Agency is launching a new system to make it easier to collect and recycle aerosol cans. It is hoped the move will save millions in regulatory costs every year.

Manufacturing and automotive facilities in the US alone use more than 1.6 billion aerosol cans annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This yields a major waste stream that poses a significant challenge to the recycling sector due to the substances inside.  

In November, EPA finalised a ‘streamlined system’ for managing this type of hazardous waste.

What will change?

The EPA is adding used aerosol cans to the universal waste programme under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. The list of materials that can be managed under the RCRA’s universal waste management system already include hazardous waste batteries, waste pesticides and equipment containing mercury.

The new rule is expected to save between US$ 5.3 million (EUR 4.7 million) and US$ 47.8 million (EUR 43.2 million) annually in regulatory costs.

‘The new rule will benefit approximately 25 000 facilities across numerous industries such as the retail, construction, and manufacturing sectors,’ says EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler. ‘The simplified structure of the universal waste programme will help improve regulatory compliance, make aerosol can collection more economical and facilitate the environmentally-sound recycling of this common waste stream.’

EPA concludes: ‘The final rule offers a more uniform, nation-wide 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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