ALL ABOUT: Getting Rid of Aerosol Cans

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By Sam McQuillan

Getting rid of aerosol cans takes a while—and can be costly. Products such as spray paints and air fresheners contribute to more than half of Walmart’s hazardous waste.

The EPA wants to make it easier for big retailers to dispose of this waste. So its new proposal lumps aerosol cans in with the same disposal process as batteries, some pesticides, and lamps.

The federal universal waste program allows states to add new products to their versions of the program. California and Colorado already recycle aerosol cans as universal waste; the EPA’s proposal aims to do the same, but on a federal level.

But retailers say it doesn’t quite do that. The EPA’s proposal states aerosol cans must be “intact” to be disposed of as universal waste. Neither California nor Colorado use that word in their rules, according to Walmart. The company said in its comment on the proposal that intact could mean a lot of things, and that its definition could change based on whom you ask.

Some environmental groups oppose the proposal altogether, citing the dangers of hazardous waste mismanagement. California Communities Against Toxics said in its comments that the proposal makes it easier to mishandle aerosol cans, which can burst and release dangerous chemicals into the air.

This All About appeared in today’s First Move, which is delivered at 5:45 a.m. weekdays.

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