The Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") proposes a new rule (83 Fed. Reg. 11654, March 16, 2018) to redefine hazardous waste aerosol cans as “Universal Wastes,” a classification the agency believes can enhance recycling if it applies the lower standard to discarded aerosol cans.

Remember back in the ‘60s or ‘70s or ‘80s when, against all of the rules, other kids in the neighborhood would play “Army” and create a flamethrower from certain items around the house? [Warning: don’t be a knucklehead and try to recreate the memories!!!] These days, very stringent regulations pursuant to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) generally apply to those aerosol canisters due to the ignitability characteristics that used to fascinate so many of us. Now, EPA has recently proposed a rule that would ease the management and handling requirements for aerosol cans by adding many of those to a federal “universal waste” list that includes other ubiquitous items such as fluorescent bulbs or lamps, some pesticides, and certain batteries.

EPA believes the rule change may encourage aerosol can recycling. EPA also proposes criteria for puncturing/draining the vessels. The rule changes, if adopted, would allow longer collection/storage periods for the cans at retail stores or a facility and the changes could increase (up to five times greater) the amount that one could accumulate on-site.

EPA has published the proposed rule at: Comments to the proposal are encouraged by April 16, and must be submitted to the government no later than May 15, 2018 at Docket Number EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0463 for consideration. If you would like to discuss this proposed rule, preparing a comment to be submitted, or any other environmental matter, please contact David at or call David at 423.756.8400, ext. 230.


David Higney is a past chairman of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section and he continues to serve on the Section’s Executive Committee. David is licensed in both Tennessee and Georgia. David has concentrated his practice in business litigation and environmental matters (regulatory and advocacy) before state and federal agencies/tribunals for over 25 years.

All legal situations are unique; this blog is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship or provide legal advice. Please contact the author if you have any questions or comments regarding the subject matter.