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Universal Waste

To protect your health and the environment, California law requires all residents to take batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, e-waste, and other items known as Universal Waste to designated disposal sites.

Universal Waste includes:

  • Common batteries – AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries such as hearing aid batteries
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs and other mercury-containing lamps – fluorescent light tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge (HID), metal halide, sodium and neon bulbs
  • Thermostats – old-style with the sealed glass “tilt switch” (newer electronic versions are not included)
  • Electronics – televisions, computers, monitors, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens
  • Electrical switches and relays – mercury switches found in some chest freezers, pre-1972 washing machines, sump pumps, electric space heaters, clothes irons, silent light switches, automobile hood and trunk lights, and ABS brakes
  • Pilot light sensors – mercury switches found in some gas appliances such as stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces and space heaters
  • Mercury gauges – some barometers, manometers, blood pressure and vacuum gauges contain mercury
  • Novelties – musical greeting cards, mercury maze games, athletic shoes (made before 1997) with flashing lights in soles
  • Mercury thermometers – Many health clinics, pharmacies and doctor's offices have thermometer exchange programs to replace your old fever thermometer with one that’s mercury-free
  • Aerosol cans that contain or had contained hazardous materials

*A complete list of Universal Waste products, and information about disposal and recycling options, is available at the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). You can also call the Waste Evaluation helpline at (916) 322-7676 for help in identifying items for proper disposal.


Universal Waste Disposal

The following items can be recycled at local retail stores:

  • Cell phones – may generally be turned in where you purchase your new cell phone or at Best Buys, Radio Shack or Staples. Many non-profit groups will also accept cell phones and refurbish them for reuse
  • Computers – Dell, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and IBM offer recycling of their products
  • Rechargeable batteries – Facilities that sell rechargeable batteries must provide recycling of used rechargeable batteries. These can also be recycled at local Best Buys, Radio Shack or Staples stores
  • Ink jet cartridges – may be turned in to Best Buys, Radio Shack or Staples stores. Some schools offer ink jet cartridge recycling programs as a fundraiser

Additional information on nearby disposal options is available at the California State University, Sacramento

For additional assistance, please call or visit: