March 2006

Universal Waste Ban effective in California

Oakland, CA— On February 9, the Universal Waste Ban took effect statewide, requiring residents and small businesses to dispose of “universal waste” such as batteries, old cell phones and fluorescent light tubes at designated facilities and collection sites. Products like this, which have low levels of hazardous metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, can potentially contaminate soil and groundwater, so they cannot be disposed of in the trash and subsequently deposited into landfills.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) declared the new rules at the end of January 2006.

Following is a description of the consumer materials covered by the Universal Waste Ban:

• Common batteries— AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button 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,” which contains mercury

• Electronic devices — televisions and computer monitors, computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens.

For additional information about the universal waste ban, visit


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