Jump to main content.


Mercury-Containing Equipment

collage

Kinds of Universal Waste

Batteries Lamps Pesticides Mercury-Containing Equipment

Mercury-containing equipment that is classified as hazardous waste can be collected under the streamlined collection standards for universal waste. These universal waste standards were created in an attempt to make it easier to collect the mercury-containing equipment and send them for recycling (or proper treatment and disposal). The requirements specific to mercury-containing equipment are described below. Please note that states can have more stringent standards.

What Is the Universal Waste Definition of "Mercury-Containing Equipment"? 40 CFR 273.9

Key Documents

Lamp / Light Bulb Recycling

Discarded Mercury-Containing Equipment Classified as Universal Waste (PDF) (1 pg, 10K, About PDF )

Related Links

The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) Exit EPA facilitates the collection by HVAC wholesalers from contractors of all brands of used, wall-mounted mercury-switch thermostats so that the mercury can be purified for re-use.

You can learn more about products and devices that may contain mercury. Search for mercury recycling facilities at Earth 911. Exit EPA

Mercury-containing equipment means a device or part of a device (including thermostats, but excluding batteries and lamps) that contains elemental mercury integral to its function.

When Do the Universal Waste Regulations Apply to Mercury-Containing Equipment? 40 CFR 273.4

(a) Mercury-containing equipment covered under this part 273. The requirements of this part apply to persons managing mercury-containing equipment, as described in §273.9, except those listed in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Mercury-containing equipment not covered under this part 273. The requirements of this part do not apply to persons managing the following mercury-containing equipment:

(1) Mercury-containing equipment that is not yet a waste under part 261 of this chapter. Paragraph (c) of this section describes when mercury-containing equipment becomes a waste;

(2) Mercury-containing equipment that is not a hazardous waste. Mercury-containing equipment is a hazardous waste if it exhibits one or more of the characteristics identified in part 261, subpart C of this chapter or is listed in part 261, subpart D of this chapter; and

(3) Equipment and devices from which the mercury-containing components have been removed.

(c) Generation of waste mercury-containing equipment. (1) Used mercury-containing equipment becomes a waste on the date it is discarded.

(2) Unused mercury-containing equipment becomes a waste on the date the handler decides to discard it.

Top of page

What Are the Waste Management Requirements for Small Quantity Handlers of Universal Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment? 40 CFR 273.13(c)

(c) Mercury-containing equipment. A small quantity handler of universal waste must manage universal waste mercury-containing equipment in a way that prevents releases of any universal waste or component of a universal waste to the environment, as follows:

(1) A small quantity handler of universal waste must place in a container any universal waste mercury-containing equipment with non-contained elemental mercury or that shows evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions. The container must be closed, structurally sound, compatible with the contents of the device, must lack evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions, and must be reasonably designed to prevent the escape of mercury into the environment by volatilization or any other means.

(2) A small quantity handler of universal waste may remove mercury-containing ampules from universal waste mercury-containing equipment provided the handler:

(i) Removes and manages the ampules in a manner designed to prevent breakage of the ampules;

(ii) Removes the ampules only over or in a containment device (e.g., tray or pan sufficient to collect and contain any mercury released from an ampule in case of breakage);

(iii) Ensures that a mercury clean-up system is readily available to immediately transfer any mercury resulting from spills or leaks from broken ampules from that containment device to a container that meets the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34;

(iv) Immediately transfers any mercury resulting from spills or leaks from broken ampules from the containment device to a container that meets the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34;

(v) Ensures that the area in which ampules are removed is well ventilated and monitored to ensure compliance with applicable OSHA exposure levels for mercury;

(vi) Ensures that employees removing ampules are thoroughly familiar with proper waste mercury handling and emergency procedures, including transfer of mercury from containment devices to appropriate containers;

(vii) Stores removed ampules in closed, non-leaking containers that are in good condition;

(viii) Packs removed ampules in the container with packing materials adequate to prevent breakage during storage, handling, and transportation;

(3) A small quantity handler of universal waste mercury-containing equipment that does not contain an ampule may remove the open original housing holding the mercury from universal waste mercury-containing equipment provided the handler:

(i) Immediately seals the original housing holding the mercury with an air-tight seal to prevent the release of any mercury to the environment; and

(ii) Follows all requirements for removing ampules and managing removed ampules under paragraph (c)(2) of this section; and

(4) (i) A small quantity handler of universal waste who removes mercury-containing ampules from mercury-containing equipment or seals mercury from mercury-containing equipment in its original housing must determine whether the following exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste identified in 40 CFR part 261, subpart C:

(A) Mercury or clean-up residues resulting from spills or leaks and/or

(B) Other solid waste generated as a result of the removal of mercury-containing ampules or housings (e.g., the remaining mercury-containing device).

(ii) If the mercury, residues, and/or other solid waste exhibits a characteristic of hazardous waste, it must be managed in compliance with all applicable requirements of 40 CFR parts 260 through 272. The handler is considered the generator of the mercury, residues, and/or other waste and must manage it in compliance with 40 CFR part 262.

(iii) If the mercury, residues, and/or other solid waste is not hazardous, the handler may manage the waste in any way that is in compliance with applicable federal, state or local solid waste regulations.

Top of page

What Are the Waste Management Requirements for Large Quantity Handlers of Universal Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment? 40 CFR 273.33(c)

(c) Mercury-containing equipment. A large quantity handler of universal waste must manage universal waste mercury-containing equipment in a way that prevents releases of any universal waste or component of a universal waste to the environment, as follows:

(1) A large quantity handler of universal waste must place in a container any universal waste mercury-containing equipment with non-contained elemental mercury or that shows evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions. The container must be closed, structurally sound, compatible with the contents of the device, must lack evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions, and must be reasonably designed to prevent the escape of mercury into the environment by volatilization or any other means.

(2) A large quantity handler of universal waste may remove mercury-containing ampules from universal waste mercury-containing equipment provided the handler:

(i) Removes and manages the ampules in a manner designed to prevent breakage of the ampules;

(ii) Removes the ampules only over or in a containment device (e.g., tray or pan sufficient to collect and contain any mercury released from an ampule in case of breakage);

(iii) Ensures that a mercury clean-up system is readily available to immediately transfer any mercury resulting from spills or leaks of broken ampules from that containment device to a container that meets the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34;

(iv) Immediately transfers any mercury resulting from spills or leaks from broken ampules from the containment device to a container that meets the requirements of 40 CFR 262.34;

(v) Ensures that the area in which ampules are removed is well ventilated and monitored to ensure compliance with applicable OSHA exposure levels for mercury;

(vi) Ensures that employees removing ampules are thoroughly familiar with proper waste mercury handling and emergency procedures, including transfer of mercury from containment devices to appropriate containers;

(vii) Stores removed ampules in closed, non-leaking containers that are in good condition;

(viii) Packs removed ampules in the container with packing materials adequate to prevent breakage during storage, handling, and transportation;

(3) A large quantity handler of universal waste mercury-containing equipment that does not contain an ampule may remove the open original housing holding the mercury from universal waste mercury-containing equipment provided the handler:

(i) Immediately seals the original housing holding the mercury with an air-tight seal to prevent the release of any mercury to the environment; and

(ii) Follows all requirements for removing ampules and managing removed ampules under paragraph (c)(2) of this section; and

(4) (i) A large quantity handler of universal waste who removes mercury-containing ampules from mercury-containing equipment or seals mercury from mercury-containing equipment in its original housing must determine whether the following exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste identified in 40 CFR part 261, subpart C:

(A) Mercury or clean-up residues resulting from spills or leaks and/or

(B) Other solid waste generated as a result of the removal of mercury-containing ampules or housings (e.g., the remaining mercury-containing device).

(ii) If the mercury, residues, and/or other solid waste exhibits a characteristic of hazardous waste, it must be managed in compliance with all applicable requirements of 40 CFR parts 260 through 272. The handler is considered the generator of the mercury, residues, and/or other waste and must manage it in compliance with 40 CFR part 262.

(iii) If the mercury, residues, and/or other solid waste is not hazardous, the handler may manage the waste in any way that is in compliance with applicable federal, state or local solid waste regulations.

Top of page

What Are the Labeling/Marking Requirements for Universal Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment? 40 CFR 273.14

A handler of universal waste must label or mark the universal waste to identify the type of universal waste as specified below:

(d)(1) Universal waste mercury-containing equipment (i.e., each device), or a container in which the equipment is contained, must be labeled or marked clearly with any of the following phrases: "Universal Waste-Mercury Containing Equipment," "Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment," or "Used Mercury-Containing Equipment."

(2) A universal waste mercury-containing thermostat or container containing only universal waste mercury-containing thermostats may be labeled or marked clearly with any of the following phrases: "Universal Waste-Mercury Thermostat(s)," "Waste Mercury Thermostat(s)," or "Used Mercury Thermostat(s)."

Top of page

Where Can I Recycle Universal Waste Mercury-Containing Equipment?

You can learn more about products and devices that may contain mercury, and search for mercury recycling facilities at Earth 911 Exit EPA.

The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) Exit EPA facilitates the collection by HVAC wholesalers from contractors of all brands of used, wall-mounted mercury-switch thermostats so that the mercury can be purified for re-use.

Top of page

Where Can I Get More Information Regarding the Rulemaking?

2005 Final Rule

This final rule adds mercury-containing equipment to the federal list of universal wastes regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations. Handlers of universal wastes are subject to less stringent standards for storing, transporting, and collecting these wastes. EPA has concluded that regulating spent mercury-containing equipment as a universal waste will lead to better management of this equipment and will facilitate compliance with hazardous waste requirements.

Federal Register Notice || Federal Register Notice (PDF) (16 pp, 257 Kb) - August 5, 2005

The support materials for this rule are available for public review online Docket ID EPA-HQ-RCRA-2004-0012.

2002 Proposed Rule

EPA proposed streamlining management requirements for used mercury-containing equipment by adding it to the federal list of universal wastes. (EPA also proposed an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for used CRTs and glass removed from CRTs sent for recycling; these proposals were separated into two final rules.)

Federal Register Notice (PDF) (21 pp, 239 Kb) - June 12, 2002

The support materials for this rule and the public comments EPA received on the proposal are available for public review online Docket EPA-HQ-RCRA-2002-0013.

 

Top of page


Local Navigation




Jump to main content.