Tech Bulletin: Universal Wastes – Ohio Rule Change

by | Dec 15, 2017 | Compliance Updates, Tech Bulletins

Tech Bulletin: Universal Wastes – Ohio Rule Change

The Ohio EPA has a gift for you this holiday season. Yes, you read that right. Their new rule adopted December 8, 2017, and effective December 21, 2017, adds three waste types to the universal waste list. Unlike many new regulations that require more paperwork and hoops to jump through, their gift this year is less burden for universal wastes. In fact, this change should make managing these wastes easier for your company.

What’s New?
This new Ohio specific universal waste rule adds three additional items to the universal waste list. Allowing these items to be classified as universal wastes should simplify the management of hazardous waste for your company.


3 New Types of Universal Waste:

  • Non-Empty Aerosol Cans – A non-opening, non-refillable container that holds a substance under pressure and can release a substance. These items may be collected in a satellite accumulation area and puncturing is allowable within certain conditions.
  • Hazardous Paint and Paint Related Wastes – Any paint or material contaminated with paint resulting from painting operations. Puncturing is allowable if certain conditions are met and the liquid is considered a universal waste.
  • Hazardous Anti-Freeze – Only products including propylene glycol or ethylene glycol or aggregated batches of these chemicals. These items are used as a heat transfer medium in internal combustion engines, for heating, ventilation and air conditioning units; or used for winterizing equipment. Items should be stored in dedicated containers and commingling/contamination should be avoided.

This new rule just bought you some time! You can keep these wastes on site for one full year instead of 90 or 180 days AND you don’t have to inspect them weekly as you would if they were hazardous wastes. As an added bonus, these three wastes won’t count toward your generation status classification so you may be able to change generator categories and even become a small quantity generator. What a great change!

Universal Wastes vs. Hazardous Wastes

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), generators of hazardous wastes are required to properly manage hazardous wastes. Universal wastes are a small subset of hazardous wastes that are less regulated than normal hazardous wastes. Companies can choose to manage the wastes listed below as either hazardous waste or universal waste.  The four universal wastes listed below have been universal waste in Ohio for some time and are unchanged.

4 “Old” Types of Universal Waste:

  • Lamps (unbroken) – Incandescent, fluorescent, neon, mercury vapor, sodium, etc.
  • Used Pesticides – Suspended or recalled under Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) or collected in pesticide collection program.
  • Mercury-containing Equipment –
    • Thermostats, barometers, manometers and mercury switches, etc.
    • Not included are mercury wastes generated as a byproduct.
  • Batteries –Nickel – cadmium, lead – acid, lithium, etc.

Perks of Universal Wastes

  • Universal wastes are hazardous wastes that can be managed as either hazardous waste or universal waste under RCRA.
  • Universal wastes are less regulated than hazardous wastes:
    • Less regulatory burden on businesses
    • Promotes proper recycling and disposal
    • Provides for collection opportunities
  • Universal wastes are not counted towards a generator’s monthly generation total for hazardous waste.

Tips for a Compliant Program
While this rule change is designed to help companies avoid cumbersome regulations – these bad boys are still bad! Caution should still be taken when handling these wastes, as they are still hazardous and can be hazardous to humans and the environment. To avoid injuries, spills, and/or potential fines that may reach $37,500 per day, follow these recommendations:

  • Inspect your waste containers regularly to make sure they aren’t leaking.
  • Tape the terminals of universal waste batteries.
  • Schedule shipments every 365 days.
  • Label each container of universal waste with the word “universal waste” and a description of the contents (e.g., “used batteries”).
  • Provide training to employees on how to stay safe when working with wastes and how to be compliant with regulations.

Can I Get a Recap?

  • The new Ohio specific universal waste rule will be published December 21, 2017.
  • Universal waste regulations are less cumbersome than hazardous waste regulations.
  • Non-empty aerosol cans, hazardous paint and paint related wastes and hazardous anti-freeze can now be classified as universal waste instead of hazardous waste.

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