But It’s Only A Couple Of Light Bulbs!

You might be aware that fluorescent lamps contain mercury, but what’s the big deal? How much mercury could there be inside there?  You used to use the long tubes as light sabers, for crying out loud. Nothing better than the sound and fury from busting those light bulbs, am I right?  Well, those days are over.  The EPA classified fluorescent lamps as Universal Waste in 1995.  Universal Waste is Hazardous Waste, but since they are found in many non-industrial settings, the EPA relaxed the requirements for management and recycling of these materials:Fluorescent lampsMercury containing devices, such as thermometers and thermostatsUsed oilRechargeable batteriesWaste pesticidesWaste electronics have not been officially included in the EPA’s rule, but check your state’s environmental protection agency to make sure you are in compliance. OK so they can’t be put in the garbage.  Now what?When it comes to Universal Waste, the worst thing you can do is not follow through.  Generators of significant quantities of Universal Waste are required to:Ensure they don’t store materials longer than permitted, usually one year from the date the waste was generated.Package the materials correctly.Label the containers with the appropriate wordingPlace the date the container was first used on the containerStore the containers in a secure locationSend the materials to a permitted universal waste handlerKeep recordsTrain the workersWhere the rubber meets the road:Doesn’t sound so hard right?  That’s because it’s not.  At the end of the day, I know you will agree with me that the most important part of the compliance picture is your worker training program.  If you aren’t going over the procedures with the workers changing the light bulbs, loading the trash cans, using walkie-talkies and changing the rechargeable batteries from time to time, all the fancy packages and labels and bills of lading in the world won’t keep you out of the hot water some of the folks listed below ended up in.  Contact us at United Alliance to make sure your Universal Waste management program is in compliance with Federal, State and Local requirements.