Universal Waste Definition

The Universal Waste Definition – Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations 6 CCR 1007-3 Part 273 – includes certain hazardous wastes that are commonly generated by very small to very large non-residential sources, including business, government agencies and schools.  Universal wastes are subject to wide-spread use, which makes disposal of these hazardous wastes difficult to control.

At Fort Lewis College universal wastes generated by college faculty, staff and students in the course of normal college operations are managed by according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s rules and regulations.  Universal wastes managed on campus include the following:


Lead-acid batteries are collected by the Auto Shop in the Physical Plant Services (PPS) complex.  Sources of this type of battery include automotive and certain communication and computer batteries.  NiCad batteries and lithium batteries are collected in the PPS yard for recycling.  Alkaline batteries made in the United States are not considered hazardous waste because they no longer contain mercury and can be discarded in regular trash.


Agricultural pesticides that have been recalled or banned from use, are obsolete, containers that have become damaged, or are no longer needed due to changes in cropping patterns or other factors can be treated as universal waste.  Pesticides from PPS Grounds Maintenance and the Biology Department are examples of departments using materials that may end up in the universal waste stream.

Mercury-containing Devices:

By definition, a device with less than 5 kg (about 11 pounds) of mercury per device, such as mercury thermostats, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, manometers, barometers, gauges and flow regulations, electrical switches and relays, pyrometers, thermocouples and mercury-filled vacuum pumps.  All of the above can be handled via the universal waste stream.

Mercury-containing Lighting:

Mercury can be found in fluorescent, high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor and metal halide lamps.  Fluorescent bulbs can be crushed and then recycled.  The Electrical Shop in PPS handles this task.  The remaining items can be handled via the universal waste stream.

Aerosol Cans:

Aerosol cans containing hazardous materials, such as paint, brake cleaner or solvents, that cannot be emptied, are handled via the universal waste stream.

Electronic Devices:

Any electronic device that fails the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicity test for heavy metals, such as computer monitors, cathode ray tubes and circuit boards, can be handled as universal wastes.  The Central Stores Department in the PPS complex collects these devices for recycling per state mandate.  All other electronic equipment ready for disposal by the College must be reported to Central Stores.