Universal Waste (Used Lamps, Batteries, Aerosols, Pesticides, & Mercury-Containing Equipment)

There are specific regulations for managing Universal Waste. Universal Waste is materials that are commonly generated by a wide variety of facilities including lamps, batteries, aerosols, pesticides, and mercury-containing equipment.

Used Lamps

Lamps are the bulb or tube portion of an electric lighting device that is designed to produce radiant energy. These can be in a variety of types and sizes. Examples of lamps include:

  • Fluorescent: Lighting Fixtures
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL): Lighting Fixtures
  • Incandescent: Lighting Fixtures, Photo sensors
  • Halogen: Light Emitting Diode (LED), High Intensity Discharge (HID)
  • Ultra Violet (UV): Backlight, Insect Traps, Sun Tanning
  • High-Intensity Discharge (HID): Mercury Halide, High-Pressure Sodium, Mercury Vapor
  • Metal Halide: Mercury-Vapor, Sodium Vapor

Used lamps must be handled, labeled, and disposed of according to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lamps are considered hazardous because of mercury content. For proper management and disposal of used lamps consult EHSO’s Regulated Waste Guidelines.


Used batteries must be handled, labeled, and disposed of according to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Batteries are considered hazardous because they contain various heavy metals that are harmful to the environment and toxic to humans. Examples of different types of batteries include: alkaline, carbon zinc, lithium, lithium-ion, mercury, silver oxide, zinc air, lead acid, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, large flooded cell, nickel iron, wet nickel cadmium, steep case, un-interruptible power supply (UPS), hybrid automotive, VRLA, and more.

All used batteries at Emory are recycled, regardless of the type. For Campus Services, used batteries should be collected, stored and labeled appropriately, and collected by EHSO within 6 months. For others at the University, used batteries should be brought to the nearest Hard-to-Recycle (HTR) station, or contact EHSO directly.


Aerosol Cans are non-refillable containers that contain a product that is gas compressed. The sole purpose of aerosol cans is to expel a liquid, paste, or powder for its intended use. They are fitted with a self-closing release device allowing the contents to be ejected by the gas. These can be in a variety of types and sizes. Examples of Aerosol Cans include:

  • Paints: Spray Paint
  • Solvents: Adhesive Remover, Lubricant
  • Pesticides: Bug Repellent, Insect Control
  • Food Products: Cooking Spray, Whip Cream
  • Personal Care Products: Deodorant, Sunblock, Hair Spray

Used Aerosol Can(s) must be handled, labeled, and disposed of according to current federal, state, and local regulations. In order to maintain compliance to these rules, all Used Aerosol Can(s) must be disposed of at the nearest Hard-To-Recycle (HTR) station (Clifton Campus only), or through EHSO’s Online Waste Request System for Clifton Campus and University locations. All other Healthcare locations should follow their site-specific procedures. For additional information on proper management and disposal of Used Aerosol Can(s) please see the documents below. 


Pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Expired or unwanted pesticides and empty containers that previously contained pesticides may not be disposed of in the regular trash or recycled. These must be collected by EHSO. Pesticides can be identified by having an EPA-registered identification number.

Mercury-Containing Equipment

Mercury can be toxic and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Elemental mercury can be found in thermostats, thermometers, barometers, switches, and more.

Mercury-containing devices must be handled in a manner to prevent breakage or a release to the environment. For example, remove ampules over a containment tray to contain mercury in case of breakage. When dropped, mercury breaks apart into small droplets, making cleanup difficult. If elemental mercury is released, immediately call EHSO’s 24/7 Spill Response Team at 404-727-2888.

To correctly dispose of mercury-containing equipment, place the items in a sturdy, closeable container. Label the container "Used Mercury Containing Equipment" with the accumulation start date. If possible, place the container in a secondary container to prevent release if the container is damaged. Submit a waste collection request with EHSO within one year of the accumulation start date, or as soon as reasonable.