What You Should Know About Universal Waste in Minnesota

Category of hazardous waste that contains common materials.

Universal wastes are a subset of hazardous wastes that may be accumulated and transported in Minnesota under reduced requirements. These wastes are referred to as universal wastes, as almost every business and government agency generates them. Universal wastes in Minnesota are regulated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the metro counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington.

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Types of Universal Waste

(Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)


  • Batteries

    Universal waste batteries include any hazardous waste electrochemical storage device that consists of an anode, cathode, and electrolyte. They include, but are not limited to lead acid, nickel cadmium, lithium greater than nine volts (9V), silver-containing, and mercury-containing types.

  • Lamps

    Universal waste lamps include any hazardous waste bulb or tube portion of an electrical lighting device. They include, but are not limited to fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID), mercury vapor, low and high pressure sodium (LPS and HPS), metal halide, and neon (includes lamps containing other noble gases such as argon, krypton, or xenon).

  • Mercury-containing equipment

    Universal waste mercury-containing equipment is any discarded device that contains liquid mercury integral to its function. They include but are not limited to thermometers, thermostats, barometers, pressure gauges, switches, relays, and pump seals.

  • Pesticides

    Pesticides in Minnesota include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, nematicides, and rodenticides



Managed as Universal Waste in Minnesota:


  • Dental amalgam being recycled

    Dental amalgam being recycled is mercury-containing amalgam generated by dental care providers from which mercury will be reclaimed. Dental amalgam includes but is not limited to amalgam capsules, extracted teeth, filter-trap waste and amalgam-separator sludge.

  • Pretreated dental wastewater

    Pretreated dental waste water is mercury-containing dental wastewater that has been pretreated using an amalgam separator approved by the MPCA

  • Aerosols and compressed gas cylinders

    Aerosols are pressurized containers used to dispense liquid or gaseous products. They are containers with hazardous waste liquids, propellants, or gases that will no longer be used for their intended purpose and have not been shown to be empty for hazardous waste purposes. Universal waste aerosols must be accumulated to prevent accidental activation of the dispensing valves. Leaking universal waste aerosols must be accumulated in compatible, liquid-tight, labeled containers.

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