Managing Used Aerosol Cans

For businesses, aerosol cans pose a unique hazardous waste determination problem because they consist of three different types of materials, each of which may be classified as hazardous waste — the can itself, liquid product contained in the can, and the gaseous propellant.

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Compliance and Permitting Section

Disclaimer: The information below is intended to serve as a guide to responsible waste management and does not supersede Delaware’s Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste (7 DE Admin. Code 1302).

Households are exempt from the regulations (See 7 DE Admin. Code 1302 Section 261.4(b)(1)).

Fact Sheet: Aerosol Can Management

It remains the responsibility of the generator of any particular waste to make this hazardous waste determination. However, a steel aerosol can that does not contain a significant amount of liquid (i.e., emptied through puncturing, with a hazardous waste determination made on the drained contents to ensure proper disposal) would meet the definition of scrap metal, and if it is to be recycled, would be exempt from Delaware’s Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste.

Scrap metal that is recycled is exempt from the regulations even if it is hazardous waste, so generators need not make a hazardous waste determination.

Intact used (waste) aerosol cans that are not punctured require a hazardous waste determination.

In short, to properly recycle used aerosol cans as a scrap metal, you should:

  • Never dispose of used aerosol cans in the trash. You could be illegally disposing of a hazardous waste which may result in enforcement actions and accompanying penalties.
  • Use a can-puncturing device to empty aerosol cans. Typically these devices are mounted atop a drum and are available directly from the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Perform a hazardous waste determination on all fluids drained from the aerosol cans and any filters used in the puncturing device upon removal/replacement.
  • Manage the punctured cans as scrap metal by ensuring recycling.

Recycling punctured aerosol cans as a scrap metal will help reduce some hazardous waste regulatory requirements, save you money on disposal cost and be beneficial to the environment and the State of Delaware.