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Guidance for Managing Used Aerosol Cans Generated by Commercial Entities


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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: 1) the can itself; 2) the liquid product contained in the can; and 3) the gaseous propellant.Aerosol cans being handled as hazardous waste

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 (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 the Delaware Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste. Scrap metal that is recycled is exempt from the DRGHW even if it is hazardous waste, so generators need not make a hazardous waste determination.

Used (waste) aerosol cans that are not recycled as a scrap metal are subject to the hazardous waste regulations if it is hazardous. 
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority will accept your used aerosol cans for scrap metal recycling, at no charge. The DSWA has recycling centers recycling centers throughout the state. The DSWA recycling containers will accept punctured aerosol cans from businesses.

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 tool to empty aerosol cans. Typically these tools are mounted atop a drum, and are available directly from the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Use the DSWA recycling centers to recycle your punctured aerosol cans.
  • In addition to punctured aerosol cans, you can also recycle aluminum and steel cans with the DSWA.

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. Households are exempt from Delaware's Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste.

You may view the Aerosol Can Fact Sheet here.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section at (302) 739-9403.

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