EHS > Hazardous
Waste > Programs & Guidelines >
is an entire category of materials that, if recycled, are much easier
to manage as waste. When properly managed, Universal Wastes are
not subject to the hazardous waste regulations, liability, and paperwork.
These wastes include:
An average fluorescent
tube contains as much as 40mg of mercury. However, fluorescent tubes
that contain 80% less mercury than the industry average can now
be purchased. These low-mercury tubes have the same service life
as the older tubes. Some units at MSU have already begun purchasing
and using the low mercury fluorescent tubes, which are easily identified
by the green-colored metal end caps.
The U.S. EPA
and Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality mandate that all generators
of hazardous waste "have a program in place to reduce the volume
and toxicity of waste generated" to a degree economically practicable.
To this end, Environmental Health and Safety
recommends that ONLY the low mercury fluorescent tubes be purchased
for the University. All remaining stock of older tubes and those
already in service can still be used, but they must be recycled
fluorescent tubes, which have silver ends, are still used in many
fixtures on campus. These tubes contain mercury at levels high enough
to classify as hazardous waste. However, if the tubes are collected
as detailed below, then a minimum amount of effort is needed to
comply with regulations.
tubes in the same boxes they were shipped in (if not possible,
EHS can provide boxes).
- Leave all
flaps intact so that proper closure can be made when the box is
- Label the
box with the actual words "Used Electric Lamps" by hand
or with stickers provided by EHS. The box must be labeled
when tubes are first added. (Labeling also helps avoid confusion
over which tubes are the used ones.)
- Remove box
inserts prior to filling boxes with used tubes. Do not tape tubes
- Store in
an area protected from weather and where breakage will not occur.
seal box when full.
- When you
have accumulated a sufficient number of boxes (or when the boxes
get in the way), call the recycling hotline at 355-1723 to request
a pickup. Requests for pick-ups of the tubes must be submitted
within one year of when the used tubes are created.
fluorescent tubes break prior to being sealed in a used electric
lamp box, they must be collected and handled as a hazardous waste.
This means putting the broken glass and powder in a bucket with
a lid and marking the bucket as you would any other hazardous waste.
Submit a waste pickup request to EHS if the tubes are being
handled as hazardous waste as opposed to universal waste.
If tubes break
while in a sealed box, they can still be handled as if they had
Fluorescent tubes with green end caps should also be boxed together and recycled in the same manner as silver ended tubes.
in various shapes, sizes, and types. Common types are listed below:
common battery type, found in cell sizes AAA to D
9-volt, AA, or D cell batteries
ion or nickel hydride
cycle electric backup power for lights and communications
(Sealed lead acid batteries can be as small as a D-cell
or silver oxide
be segregated into these categories when storing and when a request
for a pick-up is made. (Battery type is usually indicated on battery
labels.) To prevent a buildup of heat or sparks, batteries larger
than 9-volt should be stored such that the terminals are not touching.
be collected in any container with which they are compatible, but
must be sent for disposal within one year of start of collection.
Label the container with the words "used batteries" or
"spent batteries for recycling."
Alkaline batteries may be discarded in the general refuse. They are not harmful to the environment and the cost of actual recycling far outweighs the benefit.
found in light fixtures all over campus, may contain PCBs. The manufacture
of ballasts containing PCBs ended in 1978, but older ballasts containing
PCBs are still in use. If a ballast is not labeled with "Contains
no PCBs," then it must be assumed that it contains PCBs.
All light ballasts
should be collected for disposal through EHS. Even those produced
after 1978 may contain other fluids inappropriate for landfill,
and it is cheaper to manage all as PCB ballasts than to test individual
be collected in containers labeled as used or spent ballasts. If
ballasts are leaking, they should be individually wrapped in plastic
to prevent a spread of any potentially harmful fluid.
only mercury, such as mercury switches, older thermostats, sphygmomanometers,
thermometers, manometers, or pressure gauges that are unbroken,
may be managed as Universal Waste. For the most part, you will still
need to fill out a waste tag and request a pick-up. If the device
is a result of work being done on campus in a location whereby it
would otherwise be left, you may bring the device directly to your
own work area, provided you double bag the device. This will help
prevent any possible release of mercury should it be dropped.