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Universal Waste

The Universal Waste Rule (UWR), 6 NYCRR 374-3, (link leaves DEC website) is an alternate way of managing certain common types of hazardous wastes (otherwise they would be subject to all applicable requirements of 6 NYCRR 370 through 374 and 376). Handlers may choose to manage eligible wastes under the UWR or under the ordinary hazardous waste regulations.

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In New York State, hazardous wastes of the following types may be managed as universal waste (UW):

  1. Batteries such as lead/acid, lead, nickel-cadmium, silver, lithium, lithium-ion, or mercury (Additional information about batteries can be found on DEC's Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act page).
  2. Certain pesticides that would otherwise be a hazardous waste.
  3. Thermostats and other mercury-containing equipment (MCE) (Additional information about thermostats can be found on DEC's Managing Mercury Thermostats page).
  4. Lamps such as fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and mercury vapor lamps. (Additional information about lamps can be found on DEC's Hazardous Waste Lamp page).

A Universal Waste Handler does one or more of the following: generates, receives, stores, accumulates, and/or sends universal waste. A Universal Waste Destination Facility treats, disposes of, or recycles universal waste. A Universal Waste Transporter is involved in the transportation of universal waste.

Small Quantity Universal Waste Handler Requirements

A small quantity universal waste handler stores less than 5,000 kg of total universal waste and does not dispose, dilute or treat the universal waste. The following is a summary of the requirements. Please see the universal waste regulations in 6 NYCRR 374-3 (link leaves DEC website) for more information.

  1. Storage: Can store the universal waste for any period less than one year. The handler must be able to demonstrate compliance with this time limit by any one of the following:
    1. labeling the container with the earliest date of UW placement; or
    2. marking/labeling each item with the date discarded, or using an inventory system to accomplish the same goal; or
    3. identifying the earliest date any UW is placed in a particular area; or
    4. any other method that clearly demonstrates that the storage time limit is being complied with.
  2. Containers: Intact UW lamps and pesticides must be stored in suitable containers. Containers are not required for mercury-containing equipment (MCE) or batteries. (Management of broken or non-intact UW is covered in section 4. Leaking, spilled or broken UW.)
  3. Labeling: UW and/or UW containers must be labeled as follows:
    1. For batteries: "Universal Waste - Battery(ies)", or "Waste Battery(ies)", or "Used Battery(ies)".
    2. For pesticides: the label that was on or accompanied the product, or equivalent information as described in 6 NYCRR 374-3.2(e)(3), plus the words "Universal Waste - Pesticide(s)" or "Waste - Pesticide(s)".
    3. For mercury-containing equipment: "Universal Waste - Mercury Containing Equipment", or "Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment", or "Used Mercury-Containing Equipment". An alternative (for thermostats only) is to label them as: "Universal Waste - Mercury Thermostat(s)", or "Waste Mercury Thermostat(s)", or "Used Mercury Thermostat(s)".
    4. For lamps: "Universal Waste - Lamp(s)", or "Waste Lamp(s)", or "Used Lamp(s)".
  4. Leaking, spilled or broken UW: Leaking, spilled or broken UW must be cleaned up and placed in a suitable container. A hazardous waste determination must be performed and the cleanup material must be managed as a solid or hazardous waste, based on the determination. In general, only intact batteries, lamps, mercury-containing equipment, or pesticides in intact containers can be managed as universal waste.
    Note: if a lamp or other UW item breaks or leaks after being placed inside an appropriate, sealed universal waste container, it may still be managed as universal waste as long as the container remains closed.
    Incidentally broken lamps can be managed as universal waste, large quantities of broken lamps or purposefully broken lamps cannot.
  5. Training: All employees who handle or manage UW must be informed of proper handling and emergency procedures.
  6. Prohibitions: The handler is prohibited from sending or taking the UW to a place other than another UW handler, a destination facility, or a foreign destination.
  7. Recordkeeping: Keeping records of shipments is recommended but not required.

Large Quantity Universal Waste Handler Requirements

A large quantity universal waste handler stores 5,000 kg or more of total universal waste and does not dispose, dilute or treat the UW. The following is a summary of the requirements. Please see the universal waste regulations in 6 NYCRR 374-3 (link leaves DEC website) for more information.

  1. Notification and EPA ID: The owner or operator must notify EPA of their UW management activities and obtain an EPA Site ID number.
  2. Storage: Can store the UW for any period less than one year. The handler must be able to demonstrate compliance with this time limit by any one of the following:
    1. labeling the container with the earliest date of UW placement; or
    2. marking/labeling each item with the date discarded, or using an inventory system to accomplish the same goal; or
    3. identifying the earliest date any UW is placed in a particular area; or
    4. any other method that clearly demonstrates that the storage time limit is being complied with.
  3. Containers: Intact UW lamps and pesticides must be stored in suitable containers. Containers are not required for mercury-containing equipment (MCE) or batteries. (Management of broken or non-intact UW is covered in section 5. Leaking, spilled or broken UW.)
  4. Labeling: UW and/or UW containers must be labeled as follows:
    1. For batteries: "Universal Waste - Battery(ies)", or "Waste Battery(ies)", or "Used Battery(ies)".
    2. For pesticides: the label that was on or accompanied the product, or equivalent information as described in 6 NYCRR 374-3.2(e)(3), plus the words "Universal Waste - Pesticide(s)" or "Waste - Pesticide(s)".
    3. For mercury-containing equipment: "Universal Waste - Mercury Containing Equipment", or "Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment", or "Used Mercury-Containing Equipment". An alternative (for thermostats only) is to label them as: "Universal Waste - Mercury Thermostat(s)", or "Waste Mercury Thermostat(s)", or "Used Mercury Thermostat(s)".
    4. For lamps: "Universal Waste - Lamp(s)", or "Waste Lamp(s)", or "Used Lamp(s)".
  5. Leaking, spilled or broken UW: Leaking, spilled or broken UW must be cleaned up and placed in a suitable container. A hazardous waste determination must be performed and the cleanup material must be managed as a solid or hazardous waste, based on the determination. In general, only intact batteries, lamps, mercury-containing equipment, or pesticides in intact containers can be managed as universal waste.
    Note: if a lamp or other UW item breaks or leaks after being placed inside an appropriate, sealed universal waste container, it may still be managed as universal waste as long as the container remains closed.
    Incidentally broken lamps can be managed as universal waste, large quantities of broken lamps or purposefully broken lamps cannot.
  6. Training: All employees who handle or manage UW must be informed of proper handling and emergency procedures.
  7. Prohibitions: The handler is prohibited from sending or taking the UW to a place other than another UW handler, a destination facility, or a foreign destination.
  8. Recordkeeping: Required to maintain records of all UW shipments received and sent. Records may be in the form of a log, invoice, manifest, bill of lading, or other shipping document. Records must be retained for at least three (3) years from the date of a shipment received at or leaving the facility.

Universal Waste Transporters

Any person can transport universal waste if they have less than 500 pounds of total universal waste in the vehicle. This may include common carriers such as the US Postal Service, UPS or FedEx. To transport 500 pounds or more of universal waste, a DEC Part 364 Waste Transporter permit is required.

The following is a summary of the requirements for universal waste transporters. Please see 6 NYCRR 364 and 6 NYCRR 374-3 (links leave DEC website) for more information.

  1. Prohibitions:
    1. A UW Transporter is prohibited from disposing, diluting or treating UW (except in response to releases).
    2. A UW Transporter is prohibited from sending or taking the UW to a place other than a UW handler, a destination facility, or a foreign destination.
  2. Storage: UW transporters may only store UW at a UW transfer facility for a maximum of 10 days. If a handler stores the UW longer than 10 days, they become a UW handler.
  3. Leaking, spilled, or broken UW: Leaking, spilled, or broken UW must be cleaned up and placed in a suitable container. A hazardous waste determination must be performed and the cleanup material must be managed as a solid or hazardous waste, based on the determination. In general, only intact batteries, lamps, mercury-containing equipment, or pesticides in intact containers can be managed as UW.
    Note: if a lamp or other UW item breaks or leaks after being placed inside an appropriate, sealed universal waste container, it may still be managed as universal waste as long as the container remains closed.
  4. "In transit" status: Transportation ends when the vehicle arrives at the address of the handler or destination facility identified on the shipping document (e.g., manifest, bill of lading, etc.).
  5. Shipments to foreign destinations: A UW Transporter may only accept a shipment to be carried to a foreign destination if: it is being sent to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country listed in 6 NYCRR 372.5(h); or the shipment conforms to and is accompanied by a copy of an EPA Acknowledgment of Consent. If delivering to a listed OECD country, the transporter must comply with 6 NYCRR 372.5(h). The shipment must be delivered to the facility designated by the person who initiated the shipment (links leave DEC website).
  6. DOT requirements: Transporters must comply with all applicable DOT regulations.

Universal Waste Destination Facility Requirements

A universal waste destination facility treats, disposes of, or recycles a particular category of UW, other than the activities allowed to handlers. The following is a summary of the requirements. Please see the universal waste regulations in 6 NYCRR 374-3 (link leaves DEC website) for more information.

  1. Notification and EPA ID: The owner or operator must notify EPA of their UW management activities and obtain an EPA Site ID number.
  2. Air emission standards: Is subject to standards in 6 NYCRR 373-2.27 and 2.28 (final status); or 373-3.27 and 3.28 (interim status) (links leave DEC website).
  3. Manifesting, recordkeeping and reporting: Is subject to all applicable requirements in 6 NYCRR 373-2.5 (final status) or 373-3.5 (interim status) (links leave DEC website).
  4. Permitting: Is subject to permitting as a hazardous waste Treatment, Storage or Disposal Facility (TSDF), unless it meets all requirements of an exemption in 6 NYCRR 373-1.1(d)(1) (link leaves DEC website).
  5. Storage prior to exempt recycling: If the facility claims the exemption in 6 NYCRR 373-1.1(d)(1)(viii) for the recycling of hazardous wastes, they cannot store the UW before recycling. This means that the UW must enter the recycling process on the same shift as received, unless a delivery is made to the facility within one hour of the end of the work day, in which case it must be processed on the next business day or within 3 days, whichever is less. Also, to claim this exemption, the facility must comply with all other requirements under 373-1.1(d)(1)(vii) and all requirements of 6 NYCRR 371.1(g)(3)(ii) (links leave DEC website).
  6. Multiple UW statuses at the same facility: A facility may be a Destination Facility for one or more universal waste streams and be a Universal Waste Handler for other universal wastes (e.g., a destination facility that recycles waste fluorescent lamps and is a UW Handler of batteries and thermostats).
  7. Management of other wastes: A UW Destination Facility may also manage non-hazardous wastes and may be subject to requirements under 6 NYCRR 360 (link leaves DEC website).

Additional Assistance

If you require assistance with a particular hazardous waste issue that is not addressed in the guidance above you may contact DEC for technical assistance by phone at (518) 402-8652 or by email at info.sqg@dec.ny.gov.