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Management of Waste Airbags

DEC has issued enforcement discretion on the regulation of vehicle airbags as described below. This will be in effect until rescinded or adopted into regulation. See DEC's Hazardous Waste Revisions Under Consideration webpage for more information about upcoming regulatory changes affecting the management of airbag waste in New York State.

Waste airbags are often considered hazardous waste because they display the hazardous characteristics of ignitability (D001) and/or reactivity (D003), however applicable regulatory requirements may vary depending upon the recall status and the management of the airbag waste. An Enforcement Discretion Letter (PDF) (949 KB) was approved on July 5, 2019 and addresses provisions of the recently revised Part 360 regulations.

Airbags become "waste airbags" when they are removed from a vehicle. "Airbag waste" includes airbag modules and airbag inflators removed from vehicles.

New York State law requires facilities to remove undeployed airbags from vehicles before the vehicles are crushed or shredded.

New York State prohibits the sale or reuse of waste airbags, per the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VAT) Title 4, Article 16, Section 415-c (link leave's DEC's website). This means that undeployed airbags that are removed from any vehicle are a hazardous waste and subject to the applicable hazardous waste regulations in New York State.

Management of Defective Waste Airbags

Airbag waste handlers include any person by site who generates airbag waste (e.g., auto dealers, vehicle dismantling facilities, etc.).

Airbag waste handlers who are handling the waste airbags under DEC's enforcement discretion policy must manage the recalled airbag inflators or airbags that are unsafe to deploy as follows:

  • The handler may accumulate a maximum of 250 discarded airbag modules or airbag inflators on-site, for up to 180 days;
  • Waste airbag modules and inflators must be packaged and shipped in a container designed to address risk posed by the waste;
  • Container must be labeled "Airbag Waste - Do Not Reuse";
  • The airbag waste is sent directly to either:
    • an airbag waste collection facility in the United States under the control of a vehicle manufacturer or their authorized representative;
    • or under the control of an authorized party administering a remedy program in response to a recall under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
    • or a designated facility as defined in 40 CFR 260.10 and 6 NYCRR 370.2(b);
  • The transport complies with all applicable U.S. Department of Transportation regulations during transit, and any applicable provisions of 6 NYCRR Part 364;
  • Maintain shipping records and confirmation of receipt for three (3) years, as well as records to prove that the airbags are sent to a facility authorized to receive them. (Ordinary business records such as bills of lading are sufficient to meet this requirement and electronic records are acceptable.)
  • The RCRA designated facility or airbag collection facility collecting the airbag waste then acts as the RCRA generator for the airbag waste.
  • Reuse of recalled defective airbag modules or airbag inflators is prohibited under 40 CFR 261.2(g) as sham recycling.
  • All activities occurring under this exemption must be conducted within the United States.
  • Non-recalled airbags that are unsafe to deploy must be managed as hazardous waste.

Management of Non-Defective Waste Airbags

Airbag waste handlers are encouraged to return undeployed airbags through the same options described above for defective airbags.

Airbag waste handlers have the following additional options for managing non-defective waste airbags, that are not part of a recall and are safe to deploy:

  • Airbags not subject to a recall may be deployed while still installed in a vehicle that will be recycled for scrap metal value - deploying installed airbags in vehicles that will go for scrap metal recycling is considered exempt treatment.
  • Airbag waste handlers that are Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Hazardous Waste Generators (CESQGs), including the weight of the waste airbags, may deploy airbags in accordance with manufacturer and safety guidelines. Deployed airbags are considered to be ordinary solid waste. CESQGs who deploy airbags are encouraged to direct the metal for recycling. Undeployed waste airbags must be managed as hazardous waste and should be sent for recycling (not reuse) or disposal.
  • Airbag waste handlers that are Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) or Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) can only deploy airbags if the airbags are directed for metal recycling under the hazardous scrap metal exemption and they deploy the airbags in accordance with manufacturer and safety guidelines. Undeployed airbags are hazardous waste and must be sent for recycling (not reuse) or disposal. If a generator intends to send waste airbags for recycling, the generator must submit a c7 notification to DEC prior to deploying the airbags and sending the airbags for scrap metal recycling (generators may use the Generic Sample "c7" Notification Generators).

Requirements for Airbag Waste Collection Facilities

An "Airbag Waste Collection Facility" is defined by EPA in 40 CFR 260.10 as "any facility that receives airbag waste from airbag handlers subject to regulation under 40 CFR 261.4(j) and accumulates the waste for more than ten days."

The airbag waste collection facility is considered the generator of the waste airbags. All applicable hazardous waste regulations 6 NYCRR Parts 370 through 374 and 376 must be met.

In addition, Airbag Waste Collection Facilities located in New York State must notify DEC, using the DEC Airbag Waste Collection Facility Notification (PDF) (1284 KB), prior to receiving airbag waste.

Additional Assistance

Please submit airbag management questions by email to or by phone at (518) 402-8652.