Waste Prevention Information Exchange: Hazardous Substances
Hazardous waste regulations designate a category of hazardous wastes called "Universal Waste." This category includes many items, such as fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, instruments that contain mercury, batteries, and others. Until recently some universal wastes could be disposed in the trash under some circumstances. However, now all universal wastes are banned from the trash.
The best brief description of California universal wastes is Managing Universal Waste In California: Rules For Managing Some Common Wastes (Adobe PDF, 64 KB) by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). This document clearly indicates which waste are universal wastes and briefly describes how they should be disposed or recycled. It also addresses California's Universal Waste Rule (Adobe PDF, 108 KB).
Under California's Universal Waste Rule (Adobe PDF, 108 KB), households and conditionally exempt small quantity generators were allowed to dispose fluorescent lamps, batteries (not lead/acid batteries of the type used in autos), mercury thermostats, and electronic devices to the trash through February 8, 2006, unless the local trash companies or other agencies prohibit it. Large and small quantity handlers are required to ship their waste to either another handler, a universal waste transfer station, a recycling facility, or a disposal facility.
On February 9, 2004, regulations took effect in California that classified all discarded fluorescent lamps as hazardous waste. This includes even low mercury lamps marketed as "TCLP passing" or "TTLC passing." No one in California is allowed to discard their fluorescent lamps and batteries as non-hazardous solid waste (as ordinary trash).
Televisions and computer monitors cannot be disposed to the trash Most televisions and computer monitors are currently considered hazardous waste when they have lived their life and are ready for recycling or disposal, including Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Liquid Crystal Diode (LCD) and Plasma. These items may not be put in the trash.
For more information about the details of most universal wastes, contact the DTSC. For information about electronic waste specifically, see the CalRecycle e-waste website, Electronic Product Management, or contact email@example.com.
CalRecycle Programs and Services
- Electronic Product Management Website—Clearinghouse for information on various e-waste topics, including collection facilities, resources, regulatory issues, product stewardship, and news and events. Includes DTSC response to questions regarding management of cathode ray tubes, such as televisions and big (not thin) computer monitors. For information on electronics or the universal waste rule as it applies to electronics, contact:
- Local Governmental Household Hazardous Waste Agencies—See the website of your local governmental household hazardous waste agency for the latest information in your area.
- Information for Local Enforcement Agencies
- Household Universal Waste Generation in California, August 2002—This report examines California jurisdictions’ capacity to handle universal waste and householders’ awareness and utilization of household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities and events. Report presents survey findings relative to county HHW programs that collect and manage u-waste items.
- Household Hazardous Waste—CalRecycle has publications on household hazardous waste. Many household hazardous wastes are universal wastes.
- California's Universal Waste Rule (Adobe PDF, 108 KB)—From the California DTSC.
- Determination of Regulated Elements in Laptop Computers and LCD Desktop Monitors for SB 20, Preliminary Report, February 2004 (Adobe PDF, 347 KB)—From DTSC.
- Managing Universal Waste In California: Rules For Managing Some Common Wastes (Adobe PDF, 64 KB)—A document by DTSC clearly indicating which waste are universal wastes, and briefly describes how they should be disposed or recycled. It also addresses California's Universal Waste Rule (Adobe PDF, 53 KB).
- Universal Waste Rule: Emergency Regulations, Rules for Generators—California's universal waste rule (Adobe PDF, 22 KB).
- California DTSC—For information or assistance with hazardous waste or universal waste rules contact the DTSC office near you.
- Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (SB 20)—From DTSC.
- Final Regulations: Universal Waste Rule—From DTSC.
- Mercury Waste Classification and Management, Fact Sheets and Other Information on Mercury Waste Classification and Management from DTSC.
- Universal Waste—A good source from DTSC for the latest California universal waste regulations.
- Universal Waste Recycling and Disposal for California State Agencies—State agencies in California should utilize this process.
- U. S. EPA, Universal Waste Rule—The federal government's universal waste rule is slightly different from California's universal waste rule.