Universal Waste


Car battery, lithium-ion battery packs, Alkaline Battery packs

All batteries except for alkaline must be disposed of as hazardous waste. These batteries include lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, lithium, mercury and silver oxide. They are found in calculators, uninterruptible power supplies, cameras, in some laboratory instruments, emergency lighting, laptop calculators, etc and are usually rechargeable. When these batteries are removed from service they need to be labeled “Universal Waste Batteries” and marked with the date removed from service. Contact UNM Recycling at 277-1681 to have batteries picked up.

Fluorescent Lamps

Fluorescent light tubes, twisted bulb.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates fluorescent lamps and all other types of lamps as part of the Hazardous Waste Regulations. Examples of the lamps typically found at the University are fluorescent, which come in a variety of sizes and shapes such as the four-foot straight lamp, u-tubes, and compact, high-intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, sodium, metal halide, and incandescent. These lamps contain hazardous materials such as mercury, sodium, and lead so they must be disposed of properly. Normally, Physical Plant replaces lamps throughout the University, but occasionally, departments will replace some or all of their burned-out lamps. Individuals who handle these lamps must follow the EPA regulations. Lamps that are broken must also be cleaned up and collected for disposal. The requirements for lamp collection and disposal are as follows:

  1. Carefully remove the lamp from the light fixture to minimize the possibility of breaking it.
  2. Place the lamp in a cardboard box into which it can fit entirely and tape the box closed. If the box is reopened to add more lamps, it must be immediately retaped closed.
  3. The box of lamps must be labeled with the words “Universal Waste Lamps” and marked with the date that the first lamp is put into the box.
  4. Call UNM Recycling at 277-1681 when you are ready to have the box of lamps picked up.
  5. If a mercury-containing lamp breaks, cleanup should be carried out as follows:
  • Leave the area for about 15 minutes to allow the mercury vapor to dissipate. Open windows if possible to ventilate.
  • Wearing disposable gloves, place the larger pieces of the lamp into a plastic bag. Scoop up the small pieces with stiff paper or cardboard and place it into the bag. Use sticky tape such as duct tape to pick up small pieces of glass and powder. Wipe the area with damp towels and add to the plastic bag. If the lamp breaks on the carpet, call SRS to vacuum after you have picked up what you can.
  • Place the plastic bag into a box or other puncture-proof container. Once the container is closed/sealed, call UNM recycling for proper disposal.