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Universal Waste

Universal waste is a type of hazardous waste that is commonly used by a wide variety of people in many locations such as households, offices, retail shops and industrial businesses.

Universal waste:

  • contains heavy metals that may cause harm if released into the environment; and
  • poses a lower risk to humans and the environment than other hazardous waste.

California Universal Waste regulations prohibit households and businesses from placing universal waste in the regular trash or curbside recycling containers. For information about disposal of universal waste see PDF icon What to do with Appliances, E-Waste and Universal Waste ; visit Universal Waste FAQs or Links and Resources.

Universal waste includes:

  • consumer batteries (alkaline, lead acid, lithium, nickel cadmium (NiCd) and mercury);
  • electronics (cell phones, computer monitors, computer printers, computer processing units (CPUs), cordless phones, laptop computers, radios, telephone answering machines, DVD/VHS players and VCRs);
  • light tubes and bulbs (fluorescent, high intensity discharge, metal halide, mercury vapor, neon, and sodium light bulbs) (excludes incandescent bulbs which can be disposed in the trash); and
  • mercury containing items (thermometers, thermostats, certain light switches and gauges).


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