harsco aerosol cans
The Clean Earth facility in West Virginia processed more than 11 million aerosol cans in 2020, according to that company’s president.
Photo courtesy of Clean Earth and Harsco Corp.

Harsco subsidiary foresees recycling boost for aerosol cans

Clean Earth facility in West Virginia likely to benefit from aerosol can waste designation change.


Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based Harsco Corp. says the Morgantown, West Virginia, plant operated by its subsidiary Clean Earth likely will be able to process more recyclable aerosol cans as a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule change takes effect in that state.

The EPA’s Aerosol Cans as Universal Waste Rule allows such pressurized cans to be managed as universal waste under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules instead of classifying them as hazardous waste.

One of the objectives of the rule change, according to Harsco, is to promote the recycling of aerosol cans, thereby reducing the number being sent to landfills, while also easing regulatory burdens on retail stores and others discarding aerosol cans.

The EPA finalized the new rule in late 2019 and it became effective in certain states in February 2020. In other states, including West Virginia, the rule had to be adopted at the state level. That has occurred in West Virginia as of July 1 this year.

Harsco describes its Clean Earth facility in Morgantown as a Part B permitted Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF) capable of receiving a large variety of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes in drums, totes and bulk.

The treatment, disposal and recycling processes combine “provide reuse and recycling options without higher costs,” according to Clean Earth. The Morgantown facility’s capabilities include the processing and recycling of aerosol cans. The pressurized cans are most commonly made from tin-plated steel, although aluminum is sometimes used.

“We processed more than 11 million aerosol cans last year, and one of our biggest keys to success was our Morgantown facility, which processes aerosol cans received from coast to coast,” says Clean Earth President David Stanton. “Because universal waste regulations are less burdensome on customers, we anticipate that the rule will lead to an increase in the amount of aerosol cans collected and available for us to manage through our facilities. Generators are now incentivized to manage aerosols sustainably as universal waste to avoid more complicated hazardous waste regulations and enforcement.”