Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Universal Wastes

Universal wastes are certain hazardous wastes commonly generated by business and industry. The Universal Waste Rule, which Idaho has incorporated by reference into state hazardous waste management rules, permits universal wastes to be managed under streamlined requirements. The rule is designed to encourage recycling and proper disposal of some common hazardous wastes and to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that generate these wastes.

Types of Universal Wastes

Currently, four types of hazardous wastes are considered universal wastes.

  • Batteries such as nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), lithium ion, and small sealed lead-acid batteries, which are found in many common items, including electronic equipment, cell phones, portable computers, and emergency backup lighting.
  • Agricultural pesticides that have been recalled or banned from use, are obsolete, have become damaged, or are no longer needed due to changes in use.
  • Lamps with mercury or lead. Examples include fluorescent, high-intensity discharge (HID), neon, mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps.
  • Mercury-containing items used in industry, hospitals, and households. Examples include mercury containing thermostats, barometers, manometers, temperature and pressure gauges, and mercury switches, such as light switches in automobiles.

Benefits of the Universal Waste Rule

The Universal Waste Rule may save businesses time and money by reducing compliance costs and the amount of time spent on paperwork. Universal waste management requirements are less stringent than those for other hazardous wastes. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Longer storage times: Universal waste can be accumulated for up to 1 year before sending it for disposal or recycling.
  • Larger accumulation rates: Universal waste does not have to be included in calculating hazardous waste generator status and monthly accumulation totals.
  • Exemption from certain transportation requirements: Manifests are not required to ship universal wastes, and the use of a registered waste transporter is not required to transport universal wastes in Idaho.

What Businesses May Benefit from the Universal Waste Rule?

The Universal Waste Rule may apply to all hazardous waste generators and transporters. Although the rule does not apply specifically to very small quantity generators (VSQGs), they may benefit as well. It does not apply to treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.

What Requirements Must Be Met?

Universal wastes must be stored in an environmentally responsible manner so that no spills or leaks occur and sent to a universal waste handler, recycler, or permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility. Universal waste handlers may not treat universal waste. DEQ recommends that universal waste handlers verify the final destination of universal waste sent off site and facility's permits and notifications.

Staff Contacts

Pollution Prevention and Continuous Improvement Lead
Ben Jarvis
DEQ State Office
Director's Office
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0146

Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief
Natalie Creed
DEQ State Office
Waste Management & Remediation Division
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0506

DEQ Resources

Overview of Universal Waste Requirements (PowerPoint Presentation, August 2011)

Properly Managing Universal Wastes

Waste Lamps and Ballasts

Facility Bulb Crusher (February 2020)

More Information

Standards for Universal Waste Management (Title 40, Part 273, US Code of Federal Regulations)

Related Pages

How to Determine Your Generator Status

Pollution Prevention