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Universal Waste and Consumer Electronics

Universal Waste

Universal waste is a category of hazardous waste that's  commonly generated by a wide variety of establishments. Examples of universal waste includes:

  • Fluorescent and HID lamps that contain mercury
  • Batteries such as Lead acid, nickel cadmium, lithium ion & lithium metal 
  • Mercury containing equipment such as mercury batteries, barometers, manometers, thermometers, thermostats & switches

Any universal waste needing a pickup or a container such as a fluorescent lamp container, please contact or call EH&S at (631) 632-6410.

Fluorescent and HID lamps

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that's found in fluorescent and HID lamps. 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:

Universal Waste Management Policy

Mercury in Consumer Products

For a pickup of large quantities, E-mail or call EH&S at (631) 632-6410 to make special arrangements.

Used Batteries

Battery Type
Common Use
 Carbon Zinc
Many Uses
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

*Old Zinc button batteries used to contain mercury. New ones do not, although they may be in old equipment such as old calculators, watches or cameras.

Batteries deemed as universal waste (as seen above) should be stored and disposed of through EH&S. Used batteries can be disposed of through SBU's battery recycling program or through any of the regularly scheduled hazardous waste pickups. 

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 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 (SBU), 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 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.