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Universal and Electronic Waste Disposal

Keep lead and other toxic metals out of UC San Diego trash by properly disposing of universal wastes.

Universal wastes are discarded products and devices that contain significant amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, and other substances hazardous to human and environmental health. Examples of these wastes are batteries, fluorescent tubes, and some electronic devices.

Federal and state laws prohibit disposal of universal wastes, including electronic devices (e-waste), in the regular trash.

  • UC San Diego universal wastes are collected by the Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) for recycling or disposal as hazardous waste.
  • If your waste is not campus-generated, see privately-owned universal wastes below for city and county disposal options.

How to dispose of UC San Diego generated wastes

Aerosol cans

Determine if the container qualifies as empty or not, and how to dispose of it:


Cell phones

Return unwanted cell phones to the service provider. California law requires vendors to accept their returned products. When that's not possible, use either a cell phone collection bin on campus or the Campus Mail.

  • Cell phone bins are located at:
    • Price Center Bookstore
    • College Residential Life Offices
  • For collection via Campus Mail, address the package to "Cell Phone" at Mail Code 0958.

Electronic devices or e-waste

To dispose of monitors, televisions, and other electronic devices owned by UC San Diego, see How to Send Equipment to Surplus Sales.

Electronic devices that must be disposed of as hazardous waste include:

  • Any electronic device
  • Calculators
  • Compact disc players and recorders
  • Computers and computer peripherals
  • Some appliances such as microwave ovens, air conditioners, and furnaces
  • Radios, stereo equipment, and phonographs
  • Tape players and recorders
  • Telephones, cell phones, and answering machines
  • Televisions and monitors, including cathode ray tubes (CRTs), plasma screens, and liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
  • Thermostats, relays, switches, and gauges
  • Videocassette players and recorders

Light Bulbs (Fluorescent bulbs, high-intensity discharge HID lamps, etc.)

  • If you are a campus hazardous waste generator and have a Waste Generator Number (WGN):
    • Package the bulbs in a box or container large enough to enclose the waste (so the waste is not sticking out the top or sides of the container).
    • Keep the container closed when waste is not being added.
    • Indicate it is Universal Waste. Attach the completed hazardous waste tag to the container at the time you begin accumulating waste.
    • Request a hazardous waste collection.
    • Contact EH&S Environmental Management Facility to obtain boxes if you generate large quantities of fluorescent tubes. 
  • If you are not a hazardous waste generator and do not have a WGN:
    • Contact Facilities Management to have light fixtures replaced in campus facilities. Facilities Management will handle proper disposal of discarded bulbs.

Storage Time Limits

Keep UC San Diego in compliance. Request used battery waste collection before storage time limit is reached.

Privately owned universal wastes

Residents on campus and in affiliated campus housing will find information for the proper disposal of privately-owned universal wastes on the following Web sites:

Regulations and policies

Questions? Contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility, (858) 534-2753.
Notice: Disposal of hazardous waste using sinks, intentional evaporation, or as regular trash is against the law. Campus laboratories must abide by strict state and federal waste disposal requirements. You may be held liable for violations of applicable laws.