|Overview:||Aerosol can puncturing, crushing, and recycling is a way to avoid disposing of aerosol cans as solid or hazardous waste. Aerosol can puncture devices rupture and empty the cans to make them classifiable as "empty," as per U.S. EPA requirements. The processed cans are then no longer considered to be a hazardous waste and can be sold as scrap metal.
Aerosol can puncturing devices safely puncture the cans, capturing their contents for easy recycling or disposal. Spray nozzles are removed as well. A simple, low-capacity can operator puncturing unit does not require power and is manually operated. With the can secured inside a cylinder, the operator presses a handle, which causes a puncture pin to pierce the aerosol can. The cans contents are then collected in a drum.
More sophisticated units have a pre-loader that moves aerosol cans into a 12-inch sealed cylinder. This cylinder is ruptured and crushed into a 1/2 inch thick wafer by a piston. The propellant and concentrate then pass through a check valve in the piston and are collected in a pressure tank. A scavenger system accepts the small amount of propellant remaining to reduce internal pressure to atmospheric before the cylinder is opened. The cans are discharged onto a well ventilated, drying conveyor where they remain for 10 to 15 minutes, before being collected in a container.
Sophisticated aerosol can puncturing devices can process more than 99% of aerosol cans for either safe disposal or recycling. Capacities range from 120 to 2,000 cans per hour. Available features of the more sophisticated units include explosion proofing, and electric, hot oil, and steam heaters to vaporize residual propellant.
Empty steel paint and aerosol cans are accepted by the steel industry for recycling. Aerosol cans must be completely empty, with the plastic lid removed (spray nozzles do not need to be removed for recycling). Residues remaining in aerosol cans are subject to federal (40 CFR 261.7) and state regulations. Can-puncturing processes may need to be licensed by state agencies or U.S. EPA. Puncturing cans may involve local air quality regulations; therefore consultation with city and county air quality agencies is advised. In most states, volatile organic compound (VOC) venting is regulated. Typically, aerosols use VOC propellants and hence the puncturing operation could result in release of these compounds to the environment. One example of a frequently used propellant is butane. To address this problem, some puncturing systems provide an activated carbon adsorption canister to capture any VOCs (not CFCs) released from the punctured can. However, the carbon has to be replaced and disposed of periodically.
|Compliance Benefit:||Aerosol can puncturing, crushing,
and recycling can reduce the amount of hazardous and non-hazardous waste at a
facility. The decrease in hazardous waste helps facilities meet the requirements
of waste reduction under RCRA, 40 CFR 262 and Executive Order (EO)
13148, and may also help facilities reduce their generator status and lessen
the amount of regulations (e.g., recordkeeping, reporting, inspections, transportation,
accumulation time, emergency prevention and preparedness, emergency response) they
are required to comply with under RCRA, 40 CFR 262. Recycling the empty
metal cans will help facilities decrease the amount of solid waste going to landfills
and therefore, helps to meet the provisions of EO 13101 requiring executive
agencies (e.g., Department of Defense) to incorporate waste prevention and recycling into their daily
operations. Increased VOC emissions from aerosol can puncturing may contribute to
a facility's need for an air permit under 40 CFR 70 and 71.
Use of sophisticated aerosol can puncturing devices may increase the use of electricity at the facility. Under EO 13123, facilities are required to reduce energy consumption. In addition, quantities of hydraulic fluid associated with the use of automated puncturing devices may increase a facility's need to comply with SARA (40 CFR 355, 370) and EO 13148 reporting requirements as well as spill plan requirements under 40 CFR 112. Finally, the possibility exists that aerosol can crushing could be considered to be treatment of a hazardous waste.
The compliance benefits listed here are only meant to be used as general guidelines and are not meant to be strictly interpreted. Actual compliance benefits will vary depending on the factors involved, e.g., the amount of workload involved.
|Materials Compatibility:||The residual contents of all aerosol cans being crushed must be compatible. Mixing aerosol can contents that are incompatible is not allowed. It is important to check material compatibly when disposing of many cans at once, especially when disposing of a group of cans that contain different products. The containers (55-gallon steel drum or other container) in which the residues are discharged should be designated and labeled for specific materials (e.g., paints, lubricants, etc.). Check with product manufacturers for compatibility within the same class of material, e.g., are two different types of paints compatible with each other in a disposal drum? The practice of designating drums for specific classes of materials also simplifies waste management and disposal.
|Safety and Health:||Proper design, operation, and maintenance of the
equipment is required for its safe use. There are minimal health concerns regarding this process, but care must
be taken when pre-loading these cans for manual processing. Precautions must be taken and proper personal
protective equipment is recommended.
Consult your local industrial health specialist, your local health and safety personnel, and the appropriate MSDS prior to implementing this technology.
|Economic Analysis:||The cost elements of crushing and recycling aerosol cans are compared to landfill disposal. According to the Pollution Prevention Equipment Program, the cost of an aerosol can puncturer is approximately $800, for the small manual operated unit used for this analysis. Waste Control Systems Inc. sells the Aerosolv Model 5100. (Katec offers an automated unit that can range from $15K to $30K, which offers the user an enhanced efficiency capturing system and a larger working capacity.)
Table 1. Annual Operating Cost Comparison for Diversion and Disposal of Aerosol Cans
Economic Analysis Summary:
Note: The economic analysis assumes that 10% of the unpunctured aerosol cans are considered hazardous wastes. However, in the event that a higher percentage of the cans are considered as hazardous wastes, this process will incur additional costs.
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*There are multiple MSDSs for most NSNs. The MSDS (if shown) is only meant to serve as an example. To return from the MSDS, click the Back arrow on the Tool Bar.
|Approving Authority:||Appropriate authority for making process changes should always be
sought prior to procuring or implementing any of the technologies identified herein.
|Points of Contact:||For more information
|Vendors:||This is not meant to be a complete
list, as there may be other manufacturers of this type of
21000 Aurora Road
Cleveland, OH 44146-1010
Phone: (216) 587-0001
FAX: (216) 587-0000
Beacon Engineering Company
Macon Iron and Metal
Macon Iron and Metal
Macon Iron and Metal
Do You Dispose of Aerosol Cans as Hazardous Waste? Navy Environmental Quality Fact Sheet
|Sources:||Mr. Michael Campbell, Katec, September 2002.
Mr. Michael Viggiano, Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, February 1999.
U.S. EPA, Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1994 Update.
Picture of Aerosol Can, Puncturing, Crushing, and Recycling
Picture of Aerosol Can Puncturer