Building and property managers can encounter many types of hazardous materials when renovating or remodeling any site: PCBs, mercury, lead, or asbestos, to name just a few. But as the most common type of hazardous material, it’s important to understand the risks and regulations around the broad category of hazardous waste known as “universal wastes.”
Your Universal Waste Checklist While Preparing for Renovation
Universal waste is waste that includes hazardous material as part of widely produced and commonly used products that end up in the waste stream. Because universal waste can pose risks to human health and the environment, it’s important to locate, handle, dispose or recycle it accordingly. Common workplace universal waste includes widely manufactured items such as batteries, electronic devices, televisions and computers, as well as mercury-containing equipment such as thermostats and fluorescent lamps. Here is a rundown of some of the most common items you should check off your list, according to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control:
Electronic devices: Includes any electronic device that is a hazardous waste – with or without a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) – including televisions, computer monitors, cell phones, VCRs, computer CPUs and portable DVD players.
Mercury-containing equipment: Thermostats, mercury switches, mercury thermometers, pressure or vacuum gauges, dilators and weighted tubing, mercury rubber flooring, mercury gas flow regulators, dental amalgams, counterweights, dampers and mercury added novelties such as jewelry, ornaments and footwear.
Batteries: Most household-type batteries, including rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, silver button batteries, mercury batteries, alkaline batteries and other batteries that exhibit a characteristic of a hazardous waste.
How Do I Get Rid of Universal Waste?
Universal wastes in your building should not be treated like normal trash. They require special treatment, and the EPA requires a handling, transporting and storage/disposal process that can only be conducted by qualified individuals or firms. Once you have gathered your universal wastes, you can hand them off to one of the following:
A universal waste handler: This is a person or firm who specializes in collecting, storing, accumulating and shipping universal wastes. Many building owners hire a handler to come in before renovation and take care of the identification of universal wastes. Some examples of a universal waste handler include: a household hazardous waste facility, a “Take-it-Back Partner” such as a retailer or manufacturer, or a collection event.
A universal waste transporter: This is a person or firm who transports the universal waste from your workplace to the disposal or storage facility. A universal waste transporter could include a curbside HHW (household wares) collection program, a package service, or a destination facility that offers pick-up service.
A universal waste destination facility: This is the final destination for universal waste, and it’s generally a facility with a permit to treat, store, recycle or dispose of hazardous waste.
Omega Environmental Services can provide a comprehensive renovation plan that includes a disposal strategy for universal waste in your workplace. Contact Omega today and tell us how we can assist you in your plans for renovation or construction.