Universal Waste


Universal Waste (U-Waste) 

In the past, residents and businesses were allowed to put waste batteries, electronic devices, mercury containing thermostats, and fluorescent light bulbs in the trash. However, effective February 8, 2006, changes prohibiting the disposal of all universal wastes (U-waste) into the regular trash was implemented.

What are universal wastes and why can’t I put them in the trash?

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are generated by several sectors of society, rather than a single industry or type of business.  Hazardous wastes contain harmful chemicals, which, if put in the trash may cause harm to people or the environment.

Universal wastes include:

Common Batteries – AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries (e.g. hearing aid batteries)

TVs and Computer Monitors (CRTs)

Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs and other Mercury-Containing Lamps

Thermostats – “tilt switch” of the old style, not the newer digital

Electronic Devices – TVs, computer monitors, computer printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwaves

Electrical Switches and Relays – can be found in chest freezers, pre-1972 washing machines, sump pumps, electric space heaters, clothes iron, silent light switches, automotive hood and trunk lights, and ABS brakes

Pilot Light Sensors – Mercury-containing switches are found in some gas appliances such as stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces and space heaters

Mercury Gauges – barometers, manometers, blood pressure, and vacuum gauges contain mercury

Mercury Added Novelties – greeting cards that play music, athletic shoes made before 1997 with flashing light soles, and mercury maze games

Mercury Thermometers

Non-Empty Aerosol


The DTSC tested these items and found they contained concentrations of metal high enough to make them hazardous.  Unless you are absolutely sure that items are not hazardous, you should presume these types of devices need to be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste and they may not be thrown in the trash.

For more information on how to dispose of U-Waste, please call (909) 464-0758.