Universal waste is a hazardous waste that is widely generated by individuals, businesses, and hospitals - by almost anyone in fact. Universal wastes are:
- Cathode Ray Tubes
- Certain Batteries
- Certain Lamps
- Mercury Devices
- Mercury Thermostats
- Motor Vehicle Mercury Switches
- Polychlorinated Biphenyl Ballasts
Because these items are products, they have not traditionally been recognized for their hazards and have typically been thrown in the trash. These wastes contain hazardous constituents and would fail hazardous waste criteria if they were tested. For example, most of these wastes contain heavy metals. When broken and disposed of in a dumpster or landfill, they release the metals into the environment through fugitive emissions.
State of Maine Universal Waste Regulations for Residents
Since 2005, the following items may not be disposed of in the trash or a landfill, and must be processed separately as Universal Waste at an approved facility:
- Rechargeable Batteries, including Nickel Cadmium, Metal Hydride, small sealed lead acid, Lithium, Mercuric Oxide, Zinc Air and Silver Oxide button batteries. Please note that alkaline batteries, most button batteries (excluding silver oxide and mercury oxide button batteries which are classified as Universal Waste) and car batteries are not considered universal waste. Car batteries are accepted separately at our landfill and alkaline and button batteries may be put in with your regular trash.
- Certain lamps containing mercury or lead, including the common fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lights, high intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide bulbs.
- Mercury devices including mercury thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and non-motor vehicle mercury switches.
- Mercury thermostats including temperature control devices, which contain mercury.
- Motor vehicle mercury switches, including hood and truck light switches and ABS switches.
- Totally enclosed non-leaking polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) ballasts.
- Cathode ray tubes, including video display components of televisions, computer monitors, and other display devices.
Please note that in January 2003 it became mandatory for industries, businesses, schools and municipalities to recycle all of the items.
Brunswick's Universal Waste Program for Residents
Presently Brunswick Public Works offers residents recycling for rechargeable batteries (Item 1) at drop-off boxes where a resident may place the batteries. The drop-off boxes are in several locations: Graham Road Landfill, Public Works, and the Curtis Memorial Library.
For fluorescent tubes (including compact fluorescent), CRT computer monitors and TVs (Items 2 and 7), residents must bring these items (unbroken) to the Graham Road Landfill. They will be collected separately at no charge and stored for recycling; Public Works has a Universal Waste Shed that was provided to us through an MDEP grant. Once we have sufficient volumes we will bring a commercial recycler to the site to collect them.
Household Hazardous Waste
Items 3 through 6 should be treated as Household Hazardous Waste and should be brought to the fall residential Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day offered for Brunswick residents.