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Universal Waste

Universal Waste

The Universal Waste Rule is an alternate way of managing certain common types of hazardous waste.  In New York State, universal waste consists of the following categories:

Batteries   Lamps   Mercury-Containing Equipment

To arrange a pickup of universal waste, email

Please click here for information about consumer electronics


Batteries listed in the table below must be disposed of through EH&S or Call2Recycle battery boxes provided by EH&S.

Battery Type
Common Use
Lead Acid
Car Batteries, Tools,
Small/ Large Generators
Lithium Metal
Cameras, Cell Phones
Mercuric Oxide
Medical Equipment
Nickel Metal Hydride
 Smoke Alarms, Tools,
Small Generators
 Silver Oxide
Calculators, Watches, Cameras
Zinc (Button)
Hearing Aids, Cameras

Alkaline batteries are not currently regulated by the NYSDEC or the EPA as they contain no hazardous properties and may be disposed of in the trash. EH&S currently does not collect alkaline batteries.

NYS Rechargeable Battery Law              

Battery Spills

For incidental battery spills or fires related to batteries, contact University Police:

  • Extension 333
  • (631) 632-3333 from any off campus phone

Batteries with hazardous components that are bulging, leaking or the contents being exposed must be managed as hazardous waste.


Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) contain mercury vapor and must be handled carefully to prevent breakage.
Common types of lamps collected by EH&S include:

  • Fluorescent lamps (CFLs, tubes, etc.)
  • High-intensity discharge (HID)
  • High pressure sodium
  • Incandescent bulbs
  • Mercury vapor
  • Metal halide
  • Neon

When a fluorescent lamp breaks, the mercury powder that is contained inside of the lamp is exposed and must be managed as hazardous waste. The goal of the University is to keep these lamps intact and out of municipal landfills or incinerators by proper handling and disposal.

For the disposal of large quantities of lamps or lamps generated from retrofitting, you must fill out an IFR Account Creation Form and email to schedule a pickup.

Mercury-Containing Equipment (MCE)

Mercury-containing equipment is a device or part of a device that contains elemental mercury that's integral to its function.
Common types of mercury-containing equipment include:

  • Barometers
  • Manometers
  • Mercury switches
  • Thermometers

Mercury-Containing Equipment Spills

For all elemental mercury spills, contact University Police:

  • Extension 333
  • (631) 632-3333 from any off campus phone

If the mercury is exposed from the device, it must be handled and managed as hazardous waste.

Universal Waste Guidelines
  • If you generate, package, manage or transport universal waste on campus, you must take Safety Management System course ENV 006 - Universal Waste provided by EH&S
  • Wear PPE such as gloves and safety glasses when handling large batteries, fluorescent lamps and mercury-containing equipment
  • Universal waste must be labeled and dated at the start of accumulation
  • Universal waste must be closed at all times, with the exception of when adding to a container
  • Universal waste must not be stored in lieu of disposal or in areas exposed to weather conditions
  • Universal waste must be disposed of through EH&S within 1 year of the accumulation start date

Universal Waste Management Policy

Consumer Electronics

Much of today's consumer electronic equipment may contain toxic heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium. These metals have the potential to contaminate our air and groundwater when improperly disposed of, leading to adverse effects on human health and the environment.  This electronic equipment also contains highly recyclable materials that would otherwise require mining of raw materials from the earth to meet consumer demand for the raw materials needed to manufacture new products.

New York State Law currently regulates manufacturers of covered electronic equipment, requiring them to take back a wide range of electronic waste for recycling or reuse from NYS consumers. As such, consumers should take full advantage of the new opportunities available to them, and will not be allowed to dispose of certain electronic waste in landfills or waste-to-energy facilities in the near future.

The Electronic Equipment Covered by the Law Includes:
  • Televisions
  • Small scale servers
  • Computers & peripherals (including any cable, cord, or wiring permanently affixed to or incorporated into the computer peripheral.)
  • Monitors
  • Electronic keyboards, electronic mice or similar pointing devices
  • Copy machines, document scanners, and printers (only those intended for use with a computer and weighing less than 100 lbs.)
  • Small electronic equipment (including any cable, cord, or wiring permanently affixed to or incorporated into the small electronic equipment.)
  • VCRs, DVRs
  • Portable music players
  • DVD players, Blu-ray players
  • Digital converter boxes
  • Cable or satellite receivers
  • Electronic or video game consoles

At Stony Brook University, a program is in place that provides for the collection, redistribution and/or recycling of the surplus consumer electronics generated here. Essentially, such consumer electronics can be disposed of through Property Control where they are either redistributed or are prepped for recycling by the consumer electronics recycling vendor under contract.

To arrange a pickup of surplus consumer electronics, please visit property surplus.

Used Electronic Equipment Proper Handling Practices

The following site management recommendations apply to all SBU employees who handle used electronic equipment:

  • Used electronic equipment should be protected from weather and stored to protect from breakage
  • Employees who handle the used electronic equipment should be made aware of safe handling practices to prevent breakage, and on how to handle any breakage
  • Equipment should be stored in an area that is inaccessible to the general public
  • Used electronic equipment should not be stored in lieu of disposal
  • Storage without evidence of the intent to recycle is subject to full hazardous waste regulation