Welcome to Farmingdale State College’s Policy Library. This library is the official repository for all institutional policies and procedures and is intended to be a resource for faculty, staff and students seeking information related to the policies that govern the institution. This library does not contain department-specific policies and procedures. Please contact the department for specific departmental policies and procedures.

Please direct all questions regarding policy content to the Responsible Office listed on the respective policy.

If you wish to propose or amend an institutional policy, please review the Policy for Developing Institutional Policies and complete the Policy Proposal Form.

For assistance with drafting and amending policies, please refer to the Policy Writing Guidance and/or contact the Risk and Compliance Office at 934-420-5365.

Universal Waste Management Policy

Policy Purpose

To establish policies, work practices, and systematic procedures for the handling, packaging, collection, transportation and disposal of universal wastes that are regulated by law. Universal waste includes used, unbroken fluorescent light bulbs (lamps), unbroken mercury containing devices (e.g. thermostats, thermometers), certain battery types (see definition below) and in some cases, agricultural pesticides. The goal of this policy is to ensure the proper and safe management (generation, transportation, storage and disposal) of universal waste at Farmingdale State College (the College), while applying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s hierarchy of waste minimization: reduce, reuse, and recycle. In addition, the policy ensures compliance with federal, state and local regulations on proper handling of universal waste.

Persons Affected

Faculty, Staff, Students, Third-Parties

Policy Statement

All universal waste generated at this College shall be handled, packaged, collected, transported and disposed of in such a manner as to protect human and environmental health and safety, assure compliance with environmental regulations and law, promote effective utilization of resources and contribute to and support the mission of the College. The College also supports and will strive to meet or exceed the waste minimization objectives stated in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and similar initiatives.


Universal Waste Collection and Disposal

Used Fluorescent Lamps are considered universal waste. High intensity discharge (HID) lamps including: mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, metal halide, UV lamps and neon tubes are considered universal wastes. Farmingdale State College is permitted to accumulate used bulbs in containers for up to one year from the date the first bulb is collected and placed in a container. Used lamps should be packed in their original box, a plain (no markings) cardboard box sufficient enough to contain all bulbs inside and is able to be fully closed, or in containers provided by an approved outside contractor. Used lamp container(s) must stay closed at all times, except when adding bulbs. See attachment 1 for more information on the handling of the used fluorescent and HID lamps.

Employees who generate universal waste may self-transport it to the Recycling Center where it is left to be sorted and placed into containers – this (packaging) can be done at the time of drop off, or otherwise shall be completed by the evening support staff that day/evening. There, the boxes and/or bulb tubes are set up within the universal waste storage area, labeled and dated to await pickup by an approved outside contractor. To initiate a large-scale pickup of universal waste (such as from a large re-lamping project), the Physical Plant can be contacted directly (x2107) to make collection, transportation and storage arrangements, or a Work Order can be submitted. If a used lamp container is approaching the one-year deadline and there has not been a scheduled pickup, contact EH&S at x2105.

Broken fluorescent light tubes must be handled as hazardous waste (refer to the Hazardous Waste Management Policy). Do not intentionally break lamps! Do not place broken lamps into boxes with unbroken lamps. Broken bulbs and clean-up residue must be placed into a container capable of being securely closed (such as the 5-gallon hazardous waste bucket located in the universal waste storage area within the Recycling Center); bagging the waste prior to placing into an outer container is recommended (such as in a zip lock bag). Wear disposable nitrile gloves when handling broken lamps. A dust mask* is also recommended to reduce the risk of inhaling fine particles and debris resulting from broken bulbs. Contact EH&S at x2105 for the pickup and disposal of a full broken lamps container, or submit a Work Order to request a pickup and to request a replacement container.

* Please note that a dust mask will not protect against harmful mercury vapors. Therefore, exposure should be limited and a dust mask should only be used if/when the risk of exposure to vapors has been controlled. See attachment 2 for more information about the harmful effects of mercury exposure from fluorescent bulbs.

Certain mercury containing equipment (MCE) is also considered universal waste. When replacing old thermostats, verify whether the thermostat contains a mercury switch. The mercury switch is a small self-enclosed glass tube with visible liquid mercury. Mercury thermometers are also another common MCE that may be managed as universal waste. Waste MCE can be collected in a sealed container. When the container is full, please contact EH&S at x2105 or submit a Work Order to request a pickup. If a piece of MCE breaks, it must be managed as hazardous waste and handled as broken lamps outlined above.

Used Batteries are a concentrated source of various heavy metals. The main constituents of concern for human health and the environment include lead and mercury. Leaking batteries should be considered hazardous waste and placed in separate non-leaking, sealed containers and labeled with a hazardous waste label and managed in accordance with the Hazardous Waste Management Policy. The accumulation area for used batteries collected around campus is staged in the universal waste storage area of the Recycling Center. The used battery containers must be properly labeled. Used, rechargeable batteries are also collected in two centrally located areas on campus – the Bookstore and in Horton Hall, where recycling boxes are set up through our Call2Recycle program (see attachment 3 for more information). Disposal of used batteries may also be initiated by submitting a Work Order, or arrangements can be made to transport them to the Recycling Center where they’ll be placed into their respective segregation containers to await pickup by an approved contractor for recycling (when applicable/available) or disposed of through our hazardous waste contractor (depending on battery type, size, condition, etc.).


Used Fluorescent Lamps – Containers must have a label affixed with the words “Universal Waste - Used Fluorescent Lamps” or “Universal Waste – Spent Fluorescent Bulbs” (all words are interchangeable) and must have the date the first tube was placed in the container, marked on the label.

Broken Fluorescent Lamps – The 5-gallon hazardous waste bucket designated for broken bulbs must have a Hazardous Waste label affixed with the words “Broken Fluorescent Bulbs” listed as the waste description. A new label must be affixed to the bucket each time the bucket is removed for disposal. Remove the old Hazardous Waste label first.

Used Mercury Containing Thermostats – Containers must have a label affixed with the words: “Universal Waste - Used Mercury-containing Thermostats” and must have the date the first thermostat was placed in the container marked on the label.

Used Batteries – Containers must have a label affixed with the words: “Universal Waste - Used Batteries” and must have the date the first battery was placed in the container marked on the label. Make every effort to segregate specific battery chemistries into separate containers and mark them according to battery type (i.e. Universal Waste – NiCad batteries).

All labels are available from EH&S (x2105).


Only trained personnel may handle Universal Waste. Universal Waste Management Training is required if an employee, contractor or designated person:

  • generates;
  • packages;
  • prepares for shipment;
  • manages collection and storage activities; and/or,
  • transports universal waste.

New employees may not manage or handle universal waste unless supervised by someone who has been satisfactorily trained. Employees must receive training in the management and handling of universal waste within six months of commencing work where their duties expose them to universal waste handling activities.

Universal waste management training is provided by EH&S. For more information, visit Training (farmingdale.edu).


Agricultural Pesticides - Pesticides that have been recalled or banned from use, are obsolete, have become damaged, or are no longer needed due to changes in cropping patterns or other factors.

Batteries - Batteries such as nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd), lithium ion (Li ion), and small sealed lead acid (Pb), which are found in many common items in the business and home setting, including electronic equipment, mobile telephones, portable computers, and emergency backup lighting.

Generator of Universal Waste - A generator of universal waste is defined as any person or site whose processes and actions create universal waste. To assure the safety of all individuals who may come into contact with universal waste, the generator shall assume primary responsibility for properly identifying, segregating, handling, labeling, and storing universal waste prior to collection, transportation and/or disposal. It is the generator's responsibility to make certain that all universal waste packaging, handling and storage procedures ensure that the external surfaces of universal waste storage containers are free from contamination and physical hazards prior to removal from the work area. Any work that generates universal waste shall be performed in a safe manner and proper segregation of waste streams is necessary in order to allow safe and cost-effective waste disposal.

Lamps - Fluorescent lighting which typically contain mercury and sometimes lead, and are found in businesses and households. Examples of common types of lamps include fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID), neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps.

Thermostats - Such devices contain as much as 3 grams of liquid mercury and are located in almost any building, including commercial, industrial, agricultural, community and household buildings. This category also includes other mercury containing equipment, such as thermometers and other mercury containing switches.

Universal Waste - Universal Waste is a low-risk hazardous waste. Universal waste categories include mercury containing equipment, batteries, industrial pesticides and lamps.

Related Documents

Universal Waste Policy Attachments

Responsible Office

Environmental Health & Safety