Hazardous waste regulations designate a category of hazardous wastes called "universal waste." This category includes batteries, fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes, instruments that contain mercury, and others. In general, universal waste may not be discarded in solid waste landfills. However, under the California's Universal Waste Rule, households and small quantity generators were temporarily exempted from these requirements by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and were allowed to dispose of these wastes in solid waste landfills.
The DTSC has determined that it will not extend these temporary disposal exemptions that allow households and small quantity generators to dispose of these wastes in the trash. Beginning February 9, 2006, these wastes will have to be taken to a household hazardous waste collection facility or other authorized universal waste handler. For more information on this decision please read DTSC's January 10, 2006, memorandum.
To address the immediate concerns of local enforcement agencies (LEA) and solid waste facility operators, the California Integrated Waste Management Board (now CalRecycle) prepared guidance on the implementation of these new requirements. To further address questions and issues that arise as a result of the expiration of the disposal exemption, a February 22, 2006, DTSC/CIWMB joint letter announced the development of joint Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The two agencies will continue to augment the FAQs as new questions and issues arise.