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Universal wastes (UW) are specific hazardous waste streams that a generator can choose to manage in an alternative manner in place of the more complex hazardous waste requirements. Many businesses and organizations (schools, communities, small business) generate these wastes in small quantities. Like many other states, Ohio has specific rules for specific waste streams that can be managed as UW.

Ohio’s universal wastes used to be limited to lamps (incandescent, fluorescent, high-intensity discharge (HID) and other types of bulbs), pesticides suspended or cancelled under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, mercury containing equipment and batteries. On Dec. 8, 2017, Ohio EPA expanded the universal waste categories in Ohio by adopting rules allowing hazardous non-empty aerosol containers, hazardous antifreeze, hazardous paint and hazardous paint-related wastes to also be classified and managed as a universal waste in Ohio. These rules went into effect on Dec. 21, 2017.

Why designate universal waste?

Designating material as a universal waste streamlines the regulations and promotes proper handling, recycling and disposal of the waste. Also, universal wastes do not count toward a generator’s monthly hazardous waste accumulation rate and are not required to be manifested as a hazardous waste in Ohio or reported on the generator’s hazardous waste biennial report. While the purpose is to streamline the regulations, the new Ohio-specific universal wastes are subject to provisions tailored to address the risks the wastes may pose. These requirements are outlined in the rules and include: labeling, tank and container standards; limited treatment provisions; accumulation time limits; employee training requirements; emergency response requirements; and a requirement that materials must be transported in accordance with the U.S. Department of Transportation rules.

For more information, see the Ohio Specific Universal Waste guidance document and Universal Waste Rule Update webinar available on Ohio EPA’s Customer Support Center.