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Universal Waste and Consumer Electronics

Universal wastes are a new category of "less" regulated wastes that include:

Fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps with mercury

Lead/acid, nickel/cadmium, lithium and mercury batteries (not alkaline); and

Mercury containing equipment

Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Mercury, a heavy metal, is toxic to the human nervous system and children and unborn fetuses are more susceptible to the negative effects of mercury. Fluorescent and HID lamps contain mercury. It is the goal of the University to keep these lamps out of municipal landfills and incinerators by the proper handling and disposal of mercury containing lamps.

If you handle fluorescent or HID lamps, please review the following:

Guidelines for the Handling of Used Fluorescent & HID Lamps:

English (in Adobe PDF format)

Spanish (in Adobe PDF format)

Management of Used Mercury-Containing Lamps Policy (in Adobe PDF format)

Safety Guide: Handling of Used Fluorescent Light Bulbs and HID Lamps (in Adobe PDF format)

Use the attached template to print the proper labels for fluorescent lamp boxes on 2"x4" Avery Shipping Labels (in Adobe PDF format).

Used Batteries

Lead/Acid, nickel/cadmium, lithium, mercury, and other heavy metal containing batteries must be disposed of properly. Used batteries should have an Avery Used Batteries Label (in Adobe PDF format) attached. Used batteries can be disposed of through SBU's battery recycling program SBU Battery and Cell Phone Recycling Program or through any of the regularly scheduled harzardous waste pickups Harzardous Waste Collection Calendar; for a pickup of large items or quantities, call EH&S at (631) 632-6410 to make special arrangements.

Additional Information

For more information, please click one of the following links:

EPA Regulations Governing Universal Wastes (40CFR Part 273)

NYSDEC Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials

EPA Information on Handling Mercury Containing Articles

Mercury in the Environment

NYSDEC Information on Mercury

Consumer Electronics

Much of today's consumer electronic equipment may contain toxic heavy metals, including lead, mercury and cadmium, which have the potential to contaminate our air and groundwater when improperly disposed of, leading to adverse effects on human health and the environment. By properly recycling/reusing this electronic equipment, it is then diverted from taking up valuable landfill space and from being burned in waste-to-energy facilities. This electronic equipment also contains highly recyclable materials that would otherwise require mining of virgin materials from the earth to meet consumer demand for the raw materials needed to manufacture new products.

New York State (NYS) 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:



Cathode ray tubes

Small scale servers

Computer peripherals (including any cable, cord, or wiring permanently affixed to or incorporated into the computer peripheral.)


Electronic keyboards

Electronic mice or similar pointing devices

Facsimile 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.)


Digital video recorders

Portable digital music players

DVD players

Digital converter boxes

Cable or satellite receivers

Electronic or video game consoles

At Stony Brook University (SBU), a program is in place that provides for the collection, redistribution and/or disposal (for 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 disposal for recycling by the consumer electronics recycling vendor under contract. To arrange for 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. Breakage can result in the used electronic equipment being subject to hazardous waste generator requirements, and can result in lead, cadmium, or mercury contamination.

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.


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