DEEP: Universal Waste Rule

Universal Waste Rule


This fact sheet is designed to answer general questions and provide basic information on management of universal wastes in Connecticut, and is not intended to supersede the applicable regulations. The information provided below addresses the requirements applicable only to large quantity handlers (LQH) and small quantity handlers (SQH) of universal wastes. Connecticut's universal waste rule requirements are found in Section 22a-449(c)-113 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA), effective as of June 27, 2002. These rules incorporate the federal Universal Waste Rule at 40 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 273, with certain provisions that are more-stringent or broader in-scope, as outlined in RCSA Section 22a-113 (see above link). 

What is the Universal Waste Rule?

The Universal Waste Rule provides a set of streamlined regulations to reduce the regulatory burden by allowing longer time for the storage of the wastes, reduced record-keeping requirements and consolidation off-site without a permit. Universal wastes are:

  1. Generated in a wide variety of settings other than the industrial settings usually associated with hazardous wastes;
  2. Generated by a vast community (typically greater than 1,000 sources);
  3. May be present in significant volumes in non-hazardous waste management systems.

Why did EPA develop the Universal Waste Rule and DEEP adopt the rule?

There are three general goals that EPA had when it developed the streamlined universal waste regulations:

  1. To encourage resource conservation while ensuring adequate protection of human health and the environment;
  2. To improve implementation of the current Subtitle C hazardous waste regulatory program;
  3. To provide incentives for individuals and organizations to collect the unregulated portions of these universal waste streams and manage them using the same systems developed for the regulated portion, thus removing them from the municipal waste stream.

Although EPA's primary goal for the universal waste program is to encourage recycling, batteries, thermostats and other mercury-containing equipment, pesticides, lamps and used electronics being sent for disposal may also be managed under Connecticut's universal waste regulations.

What wastes are subject to the Universal Waste Rule? 40 CFR 273.1 and Sections 22a-449(c)-113(a)(2)(B) of the RCSA.

There are five waste streams that can be managed as a universal waste in Connecticut. These universal wastes are:

  1. Batteries,
  2. Mercury-containing thermostats and other mercury-containing equipment,
  3. Certain pesticides,
  4. Lamps (including but not limited to fluorescent, neon and mercury vapor lamps), and
  5. Used electronics.

Note:  DEEP had convened a working group to explore the possibility of adding discarded pharmaceuticals as a state-only category of universal waste in Connecticut.  However, EPA has indicated it will issue its own rules for the management of these wastes, and this rule will prohibit states from listing these wastes as universal waste.  As a result, DEEP has suspended this effort.  For more information, see DEEP's Pharmaceutical Universal Waste Stakeholders Group web page.

How long can I store universal wastes on-site? 40 CFR 273.15 and 273.35.

In general, a handler can store a universal waste on-site for no longer than one year from the date the universal waste is generated, or received from another handler.

How much can I store on-site? 40 CFR 273.6.

  • A small quantity handler can accumulate not more than 5,000 kilograms total of universal waste (batteries, pesticides, thermostats, lamps and used electronics collectively) at any one time.
  • A large quantity handler can accumulate 5,000 kilograms or more of universal waste (batteries, pesticides, thermostats, lamps and used electronics collectively) at any one time.

When does the time limit begin? 40 CFR 262.34(a)(2).

In general, the time limit begins when the generator first determines that the universal waste is a waste. It must be marked, labeled and dated at that time.

Must I notify DEEP about my storage of universal waste?   40 CFR 273.12 and 273.32.

Small quantity handlers of universal waste are not required to notify DEEP regarding their storage of universal waste.

However, large quantity handlers that do not already have an EPA ID Number must notify DEEP of their universal waste storage activities using the EPA Site ID form.  The completed form may be submitted to DEEP via email, or by regular mail:

Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
Waste Engineering & Enforcement Division
Attn:  Julie Dutton
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06105-5127

Note:  A large quantity handler is defined as any universal waste handler that accumulates 5,000 kilograms or more of universal waste (total of all types) at any one time.  This includes handlers that accumulate in excess of this amount on a short-term or one-time basis.  As a result, a small quantity handler that temporarily "bumps up" over the 5,000 kilogram accumulation limit on a short-term or one-time basis must notify DEEP as described above, and must comply with the requirements for large quantity handlers of universal waste until the end of the calendar year.  If, at the end of the calendar year, the handler has dropped back down below the 5,000 kilogram accumulation limit, they may re-notify DEEP and have their handler category restored to small quantity handler.

What are the universal waste labeling and marking requirements? 40 CFR 273.14 and 273.34 with modifications under Section 22a-449(c)-113(a)(2)(I) & (T) of the RCSA and Sections 22a-449(c)-113(c) and (d) of the RCSA; Public Act 06-181

A generator must follow the labeling and marking requirements as outlined below:

  1. Universal waste batteries (each battery) or a container in which the batteries are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with any of the following: "Universal Waste - Battery(ies)" or "Waste Battery(ies), or "Used Battery(ies)".
  2. Each container in which the thermostats or other mercury-containing equipment are contained, must be labeled or marked clearly with any one of the following: "Universal Waste - Mercury-Containing Equipment" or "Waste  Mercury-Containing Equipment", or "Used  Mercury-Containing Equipment".
  3. Universal waste lamps (each lamp) or a container or package in which such lamps are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with any of the following: "Universal Waste - Lamp(s)" or "Waste Lamp(s), or "Used Lamp(s)".
  4. A container containing recalled universal waste pesticides as covered under these regulations must be labeled or marked clearly with:

    • the label that was on or accompanied the product as sold or distributed;
    • the words "Universal Waste - Pesticide(s)" or "Waste - Pesticide(s)".
A container of unused pesticide products as covered under these regulations must be labeled or marked clearly with:
    • the label that was on the product when purchased, if still legible; or, if not feasible, an appropriate label as required under DOT regulations 49 CFR part 172; or, if not feasible, another label prescribed or designated by the pesticide collection program; and
    • the words "Universal Waste - Pesticide(s)" or "Waste Pesticide(s)".
5.   Universal waste used electronics (each piece of equipment) or a container, package or pallet in which the used electronics are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with any of the following: "Universal Waste - used electronics" or "Waste Used Electronics, or "Used Electronics".

What are the requirements for areas where universal wastes are stored? 40 CFR 273.13 and 273.33 with modifications in Section 22a-449(c)-113(F), (G), (H), (Q), (R) and (S) of the RCSA and Section 22a-449(c)-113(c) and (d) of the RCSA.

A handler must manage universal wastes in a way that prevents releases of any universal waste or component, or constituent of a universal waste to the environment. Universal waste pesticides, lamps and  mercury-containing equipment (e.g., thermostats) must be stored in a container. A handler must contain any universal waste battery that shows evidence of leakage, spillage or damage that could cause leakage in a container. All containers for universal waste must be closed, structurally sound, compatible with the contents of the universal waste, and must be capable of preventing leakage, spillage or damage that could cause leakage.

Used electronics must be stored in a building with a roof and four walls or in a cargo carrying portion of a truck, in a manner to prevent used electronics from being exposed to the environment. The used electronics must be handled, stored and transported in a manner that maintains the reuse or recyclability of the used electronic. A handler must immediately clean up and contain any broken cathode ray tube and place in a container that is closed, structurally sound and compatible with the CRT. It should prevent leakage, spillage or releases of broken CRTs, glass particles or other hazardous constituents from such broken tubes to the environment. A handler must not shred, crush, heat or otherwise treat used electronics. A small quantity handler may disassemble used electronics for the sole purpose of marketing, reselling, reusing or recycling components. A large quantity handler must first obtain a permit issued by the commissioner before disassembling used electronics.

It is recommended that adequate aisle space be maintained around the containers to allow unobstructed movement of personnel and emergency response equipment. A minimum of 30-inch aisle space is recommended.

Handlers of universal waste must immediately contain all releases of universal wastes and other residues from universal wastes. Except for inadvertent breakage of small quantities of universal waste, which may continue to be managed as universal waste, a handler must determine whether any material resulting from the release (e.g., spilled material, residue, absorbent) is a hazardous waste, and if so, must manage that material as a hazardous waste. The handler is considered the generator of the material resulting from the release and is treated as a hazardous waste generator.

What are the requirements when shipping universal waste off-site?  40 CFR 273.18 and  273.38 with modifications under 22a-449(c)-113(a)(2)(L),(M),(W) and (X) of the RCSA.

You are prohibited from sending or taking universal waste to a place other than another universal waste handler, a destination facility (including a RCRA treatment, storage, disposal facility), or a foreign destination.

If you self-transport universal waste off-site, you become a universal waste transporter and must comply with all universal waste transporter regulations under Subpart D and F of 40 CFR 273.

If your universal waste meets the definition of hazardous materials under 49 CFR 171 through 180, you must package, label, mark and placard the shipment, and prepare the proper shipping papers in accordance with DOT regulations under 49 CFR parts 172 through 180.

Before sending universal waste to another universal waste handler, you must ensure that the receiving handler will receive the shipment.

If you send a shipment of universal waste to another handler or to a destination facility and the shipment is rejected, you must either receive the waste back or agree on a destination facility to which the shipment will be sent.

You may reject a shipment of universal waste to your site. If you do so, you must inform the original handler. You must send the shipment back to the original handler or send the shipment to a destination facility agreed to by both the originating and receiving handler.

If you receive a shipment of hazardous waste that cannot be managed as a universal waste, you must notify EPA of the illegal shipment and provide the necessary information to EPA.

If you receive a shipment of non-hazardous, non-universal waste, the handler may manage the waste in compliance with federal, state or local solid waste regulations.

How do I track my universal waste shipments?  40 CFR 273.19 and 273.39, with modifications under Section 22a-449(c)-113(a)(2)(Y) and (Z) of the RCSA.

Universal waste does not count toward generator status. Universal wastes do not need to be shipped on a manifest.

A small quantity handler of universal waste is not required to keep records of shipments of universal wastes unless the waste is being exported to a foreign destination.

A large quantity handler of universal waste must keep a record of each universal waste shipment received at the facility. In addition, a large quantity handler of universal waste must keep a record of each universal waste shipment sent from the handler to other facilities. Each record may be in the form of a log, invoice, manifest, bill of lading or other shipping document. The records must include the following information: name and address of the original handler, quantity of each type of universal waste shipped or received, date of shipment or receipt. You must retain all of these records for at least three years from the date of receipt of shipment or the date a shipment of universal waste left the facility.

What are the employee training requirements?  40 CFR 273.16 and 273.36.

A small quantity handler of universal waste must inform all employees who handle or have responsibility for managing universal waste. The information must describe proper handling and emergency procedures appropriate to the type(s) of universal waste handled at the facility.

A large quantity handler of universal waste must ensure that all employees are thoroughly familiar with the proper waste handling and emergency procedures, relative to their responsibilities during normal facility operations and emergencies.

Are there any things that a universal waste handler is prohibited from doing?  40 CFR 273.11 and 273.31.

With a few exceptions, universal waste handlers may not:

  • Dispose of universal waste (e.g., throw it in the trash); or,
  • Dilute or treat universal waste.
Handlers that engage in these activities are referred as "universal waste destination facilities" and are subject to regulation as hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities, including the applicable facility permitting requirements.
However, universal waste handlers may engage in the following activities without becoming classified as destination facilities:
  • Responding to releases as provided in 40 CFR 273.17 or 273.37;
  • Certain specified activities involving batteries, provided they are conducted in compliance with 40 CFR 273.13(a)(2) or 273.33(a)(2);
  • Certain specified activities involving mercury-containing equipment, provided they are conducted in compliance with 40 CFR 273.13(c)(2) - (4) or 273.33(c)(2) - (4); and,
  • The disassembly of used electronics by small quantity handlers, provided the used electronics are not shredded, crushed, heated, or otherwise treated, and the small quantity handler does not engage in the breaking of cathode ray tubes.  Large quantity handlers that engage in disassembly must obtain a permit from DEEP for this activity.

Where can I obtain additional information?

For further information, please contact the DEEPís toll-free Compliance Assistance (COMPASS) hotline at 1-888-424-4193, or send us an email.

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Content Last Updated September 21, 2018