Welcome to the Department of Toxic Substances Control

General UW Questions for Residents

As of February 8, 2006, waste batteries, electronic devices and fluorescent light bulbs may not be placed in the trash by anyone.


What are universal wastes?

Generally, universal wastes are hazardous wastes that are generated by a wide variety of people every day. Universal waste may not be discarded in solid waste landfills.  Scientists at DTSC have found that these wastes will leak toxic substances, mostly metals, in a typical landfill.  Some examples of universal waste include:

  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent tubes (lamps)
  • Electronic devices (cell phones, computers, televisions)
  • Cathode ray tubes (CRTs) (computer monitors, televisions)
  • Mercury wastes (thermometers and toys)
  • Non-empty aerosol cans

If I can’t throw this stuff in the trash, how do I get rid of it?

Many local government agencies run programs that help households and small businesses recycle or properly dispose of their hazardous wastes. 

  • Some retailers will collect certain universal wastes, such as batteries, electronics and fluorescent light tubes. 

For information on local collection programs, contact your municipal waste service provider, or you can access a list of Household Hazardous Waste Program Web links.  You can also check http://www.earth911.org for a universal waste collection program near you.  Use the toolbar on the left to navigate the site.

For additional questions, you can contact:
Regulatory Assistance Officers
(800) 728-6942, or (800) 72TOXIC

Copyright © 2007 State of California