Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Questions or Comments:
sbap@tceq.texas.gov

Universal Waste

This is the waste designation decision matrix provided by the Small Business and Local Government Assistance Program to aid businesses in deciding how certain wastes must be handled.

Q: What is universal waste?
A: Universal waste is a specific type of hazardous waste that is subject to more relaxed standards of accumulation, recordkeeping, and shipping requirements than those of "normal" hazardous wastes.

Q: What types of waste are considered to be universal waste?
A: Batteries, pesticides, thermostats, fluorescent lights, mercury-containing equipment (including thermostats), and paint and paint related Waste.

Q: What is a Universal Waste Handler?
A: A Universal Waste Handler can be either a generator of universal waste OR a facility that collects universal waste from other handlers before shipping it to an approved facility for treatment, disposal, or recycling.

Q: What is a Small Quantity Handler of Universal Waste?
A: A small quantity universal waste handler is a universal waste handler that does not accumulate more than 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs) or more of TOTAL universal waste at any one time.

Q: What is a Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste?
A: A large quantity universal waste handler is a universal waste handler that accumulates 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs) or more of TOTAL universal waste at any one time.

Q: If my facility accumulates more than 5,000 kg of universal waste only once in a year, do I have to retain the Large Quantity Handler designation for the rest of the year?
A: Yes, the designation stays with the facility through the end of the calendar year.

Q: Do I need to register with the TCEQ if I generate universal waste?
A: Only if you are a Large Quantity Handler and you are not currently registered with the TCEQ as a hazardous waste generator.

Q: Does universal waste count toward my hazardous waste generator status?
A: No, universal waste does not count toward your hazardous waste generator status. UNLESS amounts are accumulated beyond the "one year" limit. The "past due" wastes would then be subject to full regulation as hazardous wastes.

Q: Does universal waste need to be identified on my facility's NOR?
A: No, universal waste does not need to identified on your facility's NOR. Registered facilities should amend their NOR to remove the waste.

Q: Does universal waste need to be reported on my annual waste summary?
A: No, universal waste does not need to be reported on your facility's annual waste summary.

Q: How much universal waste am I allowed to accumulate?
A: There is no limit on the amount of universal waste you can accumulate. However, the waste must be accumulated in an environmentally responsible manner so that no leaks or spills occur.

Q: How long can I accumulate universal waste before it must be shipped from my facility?
A: Universal waste may be accumulated at your facility for up to one year from the time it is generated or received from another handler. This time limit may be extended if the handler can prove that the extension was necessary in order to facilitate proper recovery, treatment or disposal.

Q: How do I document that I have not exceeded the one year accumulation time limit?
A: You may use any method so long as it clearly demonstrates the length of time that the universal waste was accumulated. Some suggested methods include, labeling, marking, and the use of inventory or segregation systems. At a minimum, documentation for each container on the accumulation start date must be available.

Q: How must I label universal waste while it is being accumulated?
A: Each material must be labeled as follows:

  • Batteries - Individual batteries or a container holding multiple batteries must be marked with the words "Universal Waste Battery(ies)" or "Waste Battery(ies)" or "Used Battery(ies)."
  • Pesticides - Individual containers or packages holding multiple pesticide containers must be marked with the words "Universal Waste Pesticide(s)" or "Waste Pesticide(s)."
  • Thermostats - Individual thermostats or containers holding multiple thermostats must be marked with the words "Waste Mercury Thermostat(s)" or "Used Mercury Thermostat(s)."
  • Paint and Paint-Related Waste - Individual containers or packages holding multiple containers must be marked with the words "Universal Waste - Paint and Paint-Related Wastes." The requirements of 40 CFR 265.17, 265.176 and 265.177 Exit the TCEQ also apply to paint or paint related waste which is ignitable, reactive or incompatible.
  • Fluorescent Lights - Individual containers or packages holding multiple fluorescent lights must be marked with the words "Universal Waste - Lamps," “Waste Lamp(s),” or “Used Lamps.”

Q: What type of documentation do I need in order to ship or transport universal waste?
A: Small Quantity Handlers are not required to manifest or keep records of shipments of universal waste unless that waste is sent to a destination outside of the United States. Large Quantity Handlers must keep a record for each shipment sent to other facilities. The record can be in the form of a log, invoice, manifest, bill of lading or other shipping document.

Q: Must I use a TCEQ-registered transporter to haul my universal waste?
A: The TCEQ does not require transporters of universal waste to be registered. You may use a common carrier to transport your universal waste. Shipments would still be subject to Department of Transportation standards.