What is Universal Waste?
Universal Waste is generated universally, by several sectors of society and by so many different types of business; hence the name "Universal Waste" The EPA discovered that these wastes actually contain harmful chemicals and were polluting the environment. The EPA determined that these wastes should not be disposed of in the general trash, at landfills, or in any other manner that would introduce them into the environment. It was also determined that since so many businesses generate Universal Waste (including the multifamily industry), there needed to be some regulatory relief regarding the management of these wastes. Therefore, if businesses manage these wastes as Universal Wastes, they do not have to manage them as a hazardous waste.
There are four primary categories of Universal Waste and two categories that are State specific. They are:
• Batteries – Includes the following, AAA, AA, C, D, 9-Volt, and all others, both rechargeable and single use, Cadmium, Copper, button cell batteries (e.g. hearing aid and watch batteries).
• Fluorescent Light Tubes, Bulbs and Other Mercury – Containing Lamps, Hi Intensity discharge (HID), metal halide, sodium and neon bulbs.
• Mercury-Containing Devices – Thermostats, switches and thermometers, gauges and novelty items.
• Pesticides – Recalled or unused pesticides
• Electronic Devices – (Certain States ONLY) - Includes the following, TV's, computers and monitors, printers, VCR's, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens. Electronic devices contain hazardous materials that include, Lead, Copper, Nickel, Zinc, Arsenic and Beryllium
• Non-Empty Aerosol Cans – (Certain States ONLY) - Containing Hazardous Materials, (labeled Toxic, Flammable, or Corrosive), (e.g. Propane, Butane, Pesticides).
Generators of Universal Waste are classified into two categories, depending on the amount of Universal Waste accumulated on site at any one time. These classifications are:
• Small Quantity Handler of Universal Waste: A Universal Waste handler that accumulates less than 11,000 pounds of Universal Waste.
• Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste: A Universal Waste handler that accumulates 11,000 pounds or more of Universal Waste.
There are additional requirements and procedures that must be followed to properly comply with the collection process of Universal Waste, none of which are complicated, burdensome or costly.
So why should we be concerned with Universal Waste?
• It eases regulatory burdens on businesses.
• Promotes proper recycling or disposal of hazardous waste batteries, pesticides, mercury containing devices, and fluorescent lamps.
• Prevents pollution.
• Prevents a potential threat to public health
• Failure to follow Universal Waste regulations can result in regulatory violations and penalties.
So ask yourself, is your company in compliance of these very important regulations?