Universal Waste Recycling

Universal Waste Recycling_batteries lamps ballasts


What Are Universal Wastes?

Universal wastes are a subset of hazardous wastes that may be accumulated and transported under reduced requirements. These wastes are referred to as universal wastes because, at some point, almost every business and government agency generates them.


Common Universal Wastes

  • Batteries: Includes any hazardous waste electrochemical storage device that consists of an anode, cathode, and electrolyte.
  • Lamps: Includes any hazardous waste bulb or tube portion of an electrical lighting device. Certain fluorescent lamps are designed to pass the hazardous waste test for mercury, and are commonly labeled as 'low mercury' or by having green-colored metal end caps, known as 'green tips'. These lamps do still contain mercury, and in Minnesota, must still be recycled.
  • Mercury-containing equipment: Includes any discarded device that contains liquid mercury.
  • Aerosols: Includes products in a pressurized container that are pushed through a nozzle by some chemical propellant (ex. Spray paint). Managing aerosols as a universal waste is available only to companies in Minnesota.

Common Universal Waste batteries aerosol and lamps-min

What About These?

Waste streams commonly confused with universal waste:

  • non-hazardous batteries
  • electronic waste
  • architectural paint waste
  • lighting ballasts
  • small capacitors containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Each of these has its own management requirements. Contact your TRC rep for more information on how to properly manage these wastes.

Learn more from the source with this MPCA Universal Waste Guide.


What are my compliance risks?

Here are some common mistakes when handling Universal waste, all of which could lead to citations and fines:

  • Unmarked or improperly labelled containers
  • Lack of accumulation start date or inventory
  • Improper storage
  • Failure to identify state regulations

Need some help? Schedule a call with our rep.Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

Where can I send my Universal Wastes?

There are many options available. Here’s just a few:

  • Licensed Waste Handler: The Retrofit Companies, Inc. is a licensed regulated waste transporter, and 10-day transfer facility, with a network of downstream vendors that ensure proper and responsible recycling practices.
  • Community Collection Event: Many communities offer events once or twice a year to offer residents a proper outlet for Universal wastes, and other waste, like Electronic waste. The Retrofit Companies, Inc. holds multiple collection events across the Upper Midwest every year. Check our Facebook page for upcoming events
  • Pre-Paid Recycling Service: For small quantities, package services like RecyclePak, offer an easy solution. You can order right from our website.


Ready to Recycle?

Schedule a Universal Waste Recycling Pick up for your business! Our experts will guide you through any questions you may have.
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  • fluorescent & HID lamps
  • mercury devices & debris
  • electronic equipment
  • computers
  • batteries
  • pcb & non-pcb ballasts
  • pcb soil & debris
  • capacitors
  • transformers
  • appliances
  • aerosols *MN Only as Universal Waste
  • chemicals & poisons
  • hazardous wastes
  • paints & solvents
  • laboratory wastes
  • chemotherapy wastes
  • flammable aerosols
  • toxic liquid & solids
  • oils & filers
  • absorbents
  • coolants
  • cleaners & detergents
  • lab packs
  • RecyclePak pre-paid recycling services
  • pre-demolition regulated waste removal
  • testing, education & training