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Environmental Health and Safety

Universal Waste

In July 2005, US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) promulgated the final rule (40 CFR 273) for Universal Waste that established collection and management requirements for universal waste lamps, ballasts, batteries, pesticides and mercury-containing equipment.

This rule was designed to reduce the regulatory burden on non-residential entities that generate these wastes and to encourage recycling, while at the same time reducing the amount of hazardous waste items illegally sent to municipal solid waste landfills, thus reducing a potential threat to public health and the environment.

  1. Universal waste — lamps, ballasts, batteries, pesticides and mercury-containing equipment which is collected for disposal must be kept in a closed, structurally-sound container which is compatible with the contents of that container.
  2. The closed container must be properly labeled with a universal waste label specifying the type of universal waste. It must also include a method for determining the date the collection was begun; a start date could be written on the label, for example.
  3. Universal wastes may be accumulated for no longer than one year from the date generation of the universal waste is begun.

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