What is Universal Waste?

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are widely produced by households and many different types of businesses including: electronic devices, batteries, electric lamps, paints and art supplies, non-empty aerosol cans, mercury-containing equipment, CRTs/CRT glass, and photographic films or negatives. Read below for a full description or view the EH&S’ Universal Waste Management Fact Sheet for more information.

Ready to request a Universal Waste Pickup?

Any device consisting of one or more electrically connected electrochemical cells designed to receive, store, and deliver electric energy.  An electrochemical cell is a system consisting of an anode, cathode, and electrolyte, plus such connections (electrical and mechanical) as may be needed to allow the cell to deliver or receive electrical energy. NOTE: Batteries are recycled at USC; consult the Battery Recycling Fact Sheet for more information.

Electronic Devices
Any electronic device exhibiting the characteristic of toxicity is considered hazardous waste.  Examples include: computer monitors, televisions, cash registers and oscilloscopes (CRT devices), computers, computer peripherals, telephones, answering machines, radios, stereo equipment, along with media players/recorders.  Electronic devices do not include major appliances, as these are comprised largely of metals, and qualify as “scrap metal” and should be recycled.

Mercury-Containing Equipment
Any thermostat, mercury switch, thermometer, dental amalgam, pressure or vacuum gauge, mercury-added novelty, mercury counterweight and damper, dilator and weighted tubing, mercury-containing rubber flooring, and gas flow regulator.

Paints and Art Supplies
To accommodate departments that incur paint and art supplies waste, EH&S has broadened the Universal Waste category to include gallon containers, paint thinners, wood stains, and lacquers.

Photographic Negatives
Photographic negatives that are composed of nitrocellulose (nitrate film) are categorized as flammable/flammable solids. Nitrate film deteriorates over time.

Aerosol Cans
Aerosol cans may be hazardous wastes when they are non-empty and will no longer be used. Aerosol cans are not hazardous wastes when they have been emptied of contents. If the waste non-empty aerosol can contains pressurized contents that may be hazardous, such as if the propellant is ignitable or toxic, or the product itself is ignitable, corrosive, or toxic then the waste non-empty aerosol can is hazardous.

Any bulb or tube portion of an electric lighting device including fluorescent, high intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps.

Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT)
Any vacuum tube or picture tube used to convert an electrical signal into a visual image.  Examples include: televisions, computer monitors, and oscilloscopes.

Cathode Ray Tube Glass
Any glass released or derived from the treatment or breakage of one or more CRTs or CRT devices.

Request a Universal Waste Pickup

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are widely produced by households and many different types of businesses. Universal wastes include: electronic devices, batteries, electric lamps, mercury-containing equipment, CRTs/CRT Glass and non-empty aerosol cans (see EH&S’ Universal Waste Management Fact Sheet for more information).

Fill in the required fields on all pages of the form and submit.   Requests for universal waste pickup can be submitted through EHS Assistant (EHSA) as well.

Questions? Contact USC Hazardous Materials at 323-442-2200 or hazmat@usc.edu

Read more about Regulations regarding Universal Waste: CCR, Title 22, Division 4.5, Chapter 23).