Question: I’m interested in puncturing my aerosol cans, but we’ve got a lot of different things in our cans. Can I puncture everything into the same drum?
Answer: Maybe. While it is true that many different types of aerosols can be safely punctured into the same drum, not everything can co-mingle. It is important to know the properties of any liquids that will be released when cans are punctured.
Check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each of the cans that will be punctured. If you’ve got GHS-compliant SDS, stability and reactivity information will be listed in section 10. Compare the SDS for each can that will be punctured to ensure there are no incompatibilities. Even if everything that will be collected is compatible, it’s important to understand what that means in terms of disposal. Remember that the liquid residue being collected must still be manifested—and it is your responsibility as a waste generator to properly label and manifest that container.
Consider, also, how that mixed waste will be handled. For example, if chlorinated liquids are collected in the same drum as non-chlorinated liquids, all of the drum’s contents now need to be managed as a chlorinated hazardous liquid. Typically, this is a more expensive disposal option than non-chlorinated liquids disposal.
When waste streams need to be segregated, or when it’s more economically feasible to segregate waste streams, the recycling unit can be moved from drum to drum to facilitate waste segregation. And depending on the nature of the liquids, it may be advantageous to purchase a separate set of filtration media for each waste collection drum.
Get the PIG Aerosol Can Recycler to safely recycle your aerosol cans and cut down on your hazwaste.
Susansays:03/02/2015 at 11:51 am
Does this sound right? (Excerpt from an email):
If the aerosol can is punctured, then the can is definitely “empty” and can be put into scrap metal bin or trash. However an aerosol can may be emptied by depressing the nozzle and dispensing all of the product so that the can is no longer pressurized. Then the “Empty” used aerosol cans can be placed with metals for recycling or into trash as solid waste.
If an aerosol can still contains haz material (i.e. broken dispenser or product is still inside) then it probably should be managed as a hazardous waste. However, or if the plant is a CESQG and it is not banned by the State, then it can still go into the trash.
If the can is punctured, the released product must be handled as a hazardous waste. Most sites contain various aerosol products that may be incompatible if commingled in one drum. Most sites don’t use enough cans to “fill” a drum with a single drained product.
Karen Hamelsays:03/03/2015 at 7:41 pm
Yes, Susan, if an aerosol can is punctured, it is “empty” and can be recycled as scrap metal. Note that the EPA exemption for scrap metal only applies to scrap metal that is being recycled – so you wouldn’t want to put the punctured aerosol can in the trash. (The EPA is a huge proponent of recycling!)
An aerosol can that has only been emptied by pressing the nozzle and dispensing whatever product is inside the can is not really “empty” or “safe to throw in the recycling bin.” The can is still pressurized and thus still has a reactivity hazard. Safely puncturing the can relieves it of the remaining pressure and removes the reactivity hazard, allowing it to be recycled with other scrap metals.
Aerosol cans that still have product in them (broken dispenser, no longer useful, etc.) that are NOT punctured should be managed as hazardous waste. The generator needs to determine what hazards are present (listed and characteristic) and arrange for it to be stored, handled, processed and recycled or disposed of properly. This is a federal requirement. Some states regulations do vary – but state and local regulations must be at least as stringent as federal regulations.
When a can is punctured, any material released from the can must also be managed properly. Generators must make a hazard determination just like any other waste stream. And, yes, most sites do have more than one type of aerosol product. Safety managers should evaluate the types of products supplied in aerosol cans that will be punctured to determine if there are any incompatibilities. Separate collection drums should be used for incompatible materials.
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