Category: Environmental Health & Safety

Recently, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, (NYSDEC) updated the definition of Universal Waste and by adding aerosol cans and paint and will be added sections 374-3.1(f) and 374-3.1(g), respectively. Both of these programs became effective in NYS on July 8, 2023.

These additions will offer Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs), Small Quantity Generators (SQGs), and Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) alike with many of the same long-anticipated benefits. For these ‘generators’, the impact can range from saving tax dollars to even reducing their generator status, if managed properly. UW programs should also reduce disposal/recycling costs and help keep previously mis-managed hazardous waste paint and aerosol cans out of our landfills. In some cases, it should even reduce illegal dumping. And for those companies that found a need to ‘sneak’ their accumulated aerosol cans and paint to their local Household Hazardous Waste Day events, they now have a legal and less time-consuming options handle these hazardous waste streams.

Here are some details for each:

Aerosol Cans

Handling aerosol cans as UW is an EPA program when they recently added them to Title 40 CFR part 273.  In order for aerosol cans to qualify as UW, they must demonstrate hazardous characteristic for ignitability, or be hazardous waste for other reasons such as metals or corrosivity. An important requirement is that aerosol cans cannot be considered UW if they meet the definition of ‘empty’ (cans processed in a can crusher, for example).


In 2019, NYSDEC enacted the Postconsumer Collection Paint Collection Program Law and designated PaintCare to implement the program. NYSDEC created a state Universal Waste Rule allowing paint to be managed as a UW, which ultimately reduces the requirements for commonly used paints as universal waste paint. A nice feature of this program is that it allows businesses to bring paint to certain locations or scheduling pickups with properly permitted transporters.

Some of the highlights under NYSDECs Universal Waste Paint program are as follows:

  • Qualified paints under the UW program must be architectural or structural coatings, such as oil-based paints, stains and varnishes, single part epoxies, or bridge paint.
  • The paint ‘take back’ law only addresses paint waste in 5-gallon or smaller containers; however, universal waste handlers can receive paint in larger containers.
  • Need a part 364 waste transporter permit when transporting more than 500 lb. of universal waste paint.
  • Specific labeling requirements (e.g., Universal Waste – Paint).
  • Accumulation limited to one year.

Before you start any program related to management of any hazardous material or waste, you need to understand the requirements in detail, as mis-management may not only result in possible fines and fire hazards, but untrained employees are subject to serious injury!

Ambient’s EHS professionals can develop your Universal Waste policy and SOP to help get you started on the right track. Give us a call at 518-482-0704.

Mark Dugas, CHMM
Senior EHS Consultant
Ambient Environmental, Inc.

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