Welcome to the Department of Toxic Substances Control

Universal Waste Handler/Recycler

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes generated by a variety of people that may not be discarded in the trash. These wastes include, but are not limited to batteries, fluorescent tubes, some electronic devices, and mercury containing devices.

Additional Documents to assist Generators, Handlers, and Recyclers




Review the Fact Sheet for Managing Universal Waste

Read Chapter 23 of Title 22 for Managing Universal Wastes

Or review entire Title 22 for all requirements including the proper management of Hazardous Wastes.

Do you have questions regarding Hazardous Wastes? Go to the Hazardous Waste webpage.


Don't like reading Regulations? Try reviewing our table summary to answer some of your questions.

Summary of Universal Waste Handler Requirements


Fluorescent Lamps and Tubes

Broken lamps can release mercury to the air and water. Recycle or bring them to a household hazardous waste collection facility and keep them out of the trash. This includes fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, metals halide lamps and sodium vapor lamps.

Online Training: Managing Waste Mercury Lamps

Report: Best Management Practices for Managing Spent Fluorescent Lamps - January 2005

Fact Sheet: It is Illegal for Most Firms to Discard Fluorescent Light Tubes in the Trash! - May 2007 

DTSC forms the LETRA Task Force to address AB 1109

What to do when you break a Fluorescent Light

AB 1109 Lighting Task Force Report Released

Click here to see the report.

Beginning January 1st of 2010, California will restrict the sale of general purpose lights by any person, including a manufacturer, retailer, distributor and online seller, if those lights contain certain hazardous substances above specific concentration limits. Get more information at www.dtsc.ca.gov/lighting

Aerosol Cans
Most aerosol cans use a hydrocarbon propellant, which is very flammable. Non-empty aerosol cans may be classified as hazardous wastes for several reasons: the pressurized contents may explode when heated; the propellant may be ignitable or toxic; or the product itself may be ignitable, corrosive or toxic.

Fact Sheet: SB 1158 Designates Aerosol Cans as Universal Waste

Electronic Waste
Electronic wastes are universal wastes, but they are subject to some additional rules. Many types of electronic products contain hazardous substances like lead and heavy metals.

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Universal Waste Rule History


Other Resources
  • California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB)
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