Updates on Universal Waste

Special Notice Update on Universal Waste

The U.S. EPA recently added Mercury-Containing Equipment to the list of universal wastes. Mercury-Containing Equipment includes devices, items, or articles that contain elemental mercury that is integral to their function. Some examples are thermostats, barometers, temperature and pressure gauges, and mercury switches and relays. Illinois already regulates this equipment as universal wastes, but with a slightly different definition of mercury-containing equipment. The Illinois Pollution Control Board will adopt new regulations to match the Federal ones.

As universal wastes, these materials are subject to much less stringent standards for collecting, storing, transporting and disposing of the wastes. Previously, many of these devices were required to be managed as hazardous waste due to the mercury content.

Some of the benefits of managing wastes as universal waste are listed below:

  • Wastes can be accumulated for up to one year (or longer, if necessary for proper disposal).
  • Waste shipments do not require a manifest.
  • The wastes do not have to be hauled by a permitted hazardous waste transporter or shipped to a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.
  • No reporting of waste handling activities is required.

These benefits apply to small quantity handlers of universal waste (i.e., accumulates less than 11,000 pounds of universal waste at any time).

An important point about Mercury-Containing Equipment is that the regulations allow facilities to remove the ampule or other housing that holds the mercury and manage it as Universal Waste. This will help some facilities to stay within the small quantity handler classification. The remainder of the equipment can be managed by other, potentially less costly means.

If you would like more information on universal wastes or any other waste issue, please call Admiral Environmental Services at (847) 228-5355. Our professional staff has the expertise to help you more effectively manage all of your facility's wastes.

Philip A. Twomey, PE
President


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