Universal Waste State Resources Locator
Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that
are more common and pose a lower risk to people and the environment
than other hazardous wastes. Federal and state regulations identify
universal wastes and provide simple rules for handling, recycling,
and disposing of them. Examples of universal wastes include:
- spent batteries,
- waste pesticides,
- used fluorescent lamps, and
- used mercury-containing thermostats.
The actual list of universal wastes in
your state may include these items and/or different wastes.
All universal wastes are hazardous wastes
and, without the new rules, they would have to be managed under
the same stringent standards as other hazardous wastes. Also, universal
wastes are generated by a wide variety of people rather than by
the industrial businesses that primarily generate other hazardous
As with hazardous waste generators, businesses
that generate universal wastes are divided into categories, depending
on the quantity of universal waste they accumulate. Most states
recognize two categories:
Like in most federal environmental legislation,
EPA encourages states to develop and run their own hazardous waste
programs as an alternative to direct EPA management. With universal
waste rules, more state-specific differences exist than with most other
environmental regulations because:
- Small quantity handler of universal waste
(does not accumulate 11,000 pounds or more).
- Large quantity handler of universal waste
(accumulates 11,000 pounds or more).
The universal waste rule went into effect immediately
in states and territories that are not RCRA-authorized including Iowa,
Alaska, and Puerto Rico. The purpose of this on-line tool is to provide
quick access to:
- State adoption of the 1995 federal universal
waste rule is optional because the rule is less stringent than
the previous hazardous waste requirements under RCRA.
- States can create different standards
(except for batteries due to the Battery
Act), but they have to be equivalent to the federal regulations
(i.e., they must provide equivalent protection, cannot regulate
fewer handlers, etc.)
- States may adopt the entire rule or certain
provisions, which are:
- General provisions
- Provisions for batteries, pesticides,
thermostats, and lamps (states do not have to include all
- Provisions allowing the addition
of new universal wastes in states.
- state regulations for universal wastes,
- contacts at state environmental agencies
that can answer your questions, and
- resources that can help achieve compliance.
Use the pulldown or the sensitive map to find
out more about the regulation of universal wastes in your state.