Department of Public Works

What is Universal Waste (u-waste)?
Schedule Your guide to household hazardous waste

Universal waste is hazardous waste that is generated by several sectors of society, rather than a single industry or type of business. These wastes contain harmful chemicals, which if put in the trash may harm people or the environment. It is illegal to throw u-waste in the trash!

To help households and small business to recycle or properly dispose of their u-waste, some local agencies and retailers run collection programs. You could also bring to the County’s weekly collection events or to SAFE Centers.

U-waste includes:

  • Common Batteries - such as AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries (e.g. hearing aid batteries). These may contain a corrosive chemical that can cause burns. For proper disposal, click here.

  • Fluorescent Tubes and Other Mercury-containing Lamps – such as fluorescent light tubes and bulbs, high intensity discharge (HID), sodium, and neon bulbs. These lights contain mercury vapor that may be released to the environment when they are broken. If mercury is released into the environment it can contaminate the air we breathe and enter streams, rivers, and the ocean. To learn the steps to take if you were to break CFLs at home, click here. For more information on proper disposal, click here.

  • Electronic Devices - such as televisions, computers, monitors, hard drives, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens. These devices often contain heavy metals like lead, cadmium, copper, and chromium. The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has tested many electronic devices to determine whether items are u-waste or not. For additional assistance, please call the Waste Evaluation help line at (916) 322-7676. For proper disposal, click here.

  • Mercury-Containing Devices - such as thermostats, switches, and thermometers. For proper disposal, bring to County collection events or to SAFE Centers.
  • Managed by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Environmental Programs Division
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