Aerosol as Universal Waste

Impacts of the Upcoming Aerosols as Universal Waste Final Rule
By: Jeff Barger

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed a Final Rule to add hazardous waste aerosol cans to the Universal Waste (UW) Program under the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. The Final Rule will go into effect on Feb. 7 in Alaska, Iowa and Puerto Rico. Shortly after Feb. 7, the rule will go into effect in KY, NJ, NC and PA. 

Regulations on this new rule are less stringent than current aerosol regulations, which classify aerosols as hazardous waste, but all states will need to adopt this rule into their state regulations over time. This rule will impact a variety of establishments, including in the retail sector, across the country. To understand the full impact of the new rule, it’s important to understand the following highlights: 

  • Aerosols must be marked or labeled as “Universal Waste–Aerosol Can(s),”“Waste Aerosol Can(s)”, or “Used Aerosol Can(s)”
  • A one-year accumulation is allowed for Aerosol cans 
  • The same 5,000 kg per year accumulation limit that determines Small Quantity Handler (SQH) versus Large Quantity Handler (LQG) requirements 
  • The new rule uses the same definitely of “aerosol” as DOT 
  • Hazardous, non-hazardous and “empty” cans can be managed together 
  • Puncturing and crushing of aerosols is still allowed if certain standards are met 

Stericycle will be working to track state-by-state adoption of the Final Rule from February 7 on and will continue to communicate all changes to our customers. If you are a current customer with a question about this new regulation please email

You can read more about the Final Rule here, and to find out how Stericycle Environmental Solutions can help your business remain compliant with all of the latest hazardous waste regulations, visit our services and solutions page for a full list of services.