Retailers Encouraged by EPA’s Proposal to Classify Aerosol C

RILA Lays Out Path Towards $500 Million, Multi-Year Complian

Today the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the trade association for America’s largest and most recognized retail brands, announced its support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to classify and regulate hazardous waste aerosol cans as “universal waste” under the “Resource Conservation and Recovery Act” (RCRA).  

Currently, everyday aerosol products like hairspray and household cleaners that go unsold or are returned by customers are classified as “hazardous waste” under the law. Retailers must treat these products as fully regulated hazardous waste, despite the fact that the products pose little or no risk to human health and the environment. Disposing of these products costs retailers tens of millions of dollars each year.  

“We are encouraged by EPA’s recognition that the current classification of everyday aerosol products as ‘hazardous waste’ is overly burdensome,” said Austen Jensen, vice president of government affairs for RILA. “Due to this classification, aerosol cans now account for over 50 percent of the materials from the retail sector that are deemed to be hazardous wastes. This imposes tremendous costs to America’s retailers and makes recycling difficult. As EPA reviews this proposal, RILA looks forward to continuing to work with the Agency to protect our customers and the environment, while streamlining the burdensome regulatory compliance process for our members.” 

RILA submitted comments to the EPA on behalf of their membership.  

“We have been urging the EPA to take this type of action for several years and are pleased that the Agency has initiated the current rulemaking,” RILA wrote. “We believe aerosol cans are particularly well suited for addition to the universal waste rule, since they satisfy all of the criteria specified in the regulations for classification as universal wastes. For example, they are generated ubiquitously, pose relatively low risks, are difficult to segregate into regulated and non-regulated streams, and would be handled in a more protective manner if the full RCRA hazardous waste regulations were not applied during generation, storage, transport, and collection.” 

While RILA is encouraged by the EPA’s proposal, the Association expressed concerns with the way in which individual aerosol cans will be determined as universal waste.  

“We are concerned, however, that the scope of the proposal has been unnecessarily and inappropriately narrowed in certain ways that would make the universal waste rule unworkable, especially in the retail sector, which EPA estimates represents two-thirds of the affected hazardous waste generator universe,” RILA wrote. “We urge the Agency to expand the scope of its proposal by including non-aerated products and gas-only products, by removing or modifying the exclusion for aerosol cans with evidence of leaking or damage, and by clarifying the status of empty aerosol cans.” 

RILA has estimated that these proposed changes and clarifications could result in cost savings of $80 million dollars a year for the retail industry.  

To read RILA’s full comments click here.  


RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

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