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Universal waste: Everyone's issue

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As the name implies, universal waste can be found, well, everywhere.

Universal waste consists primarily of fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and aerosol spray cans. The results of the 2011 Environmental, Safety, and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program evaluation, completed June 17, clearly demonstrated the need for greater training on proper disposal of universal waste at Peterson AFB.

Even though these three items -- bulbs, batteries and spray cans -- seem quite tame, they are considered special types of hazardous waste. Some fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, batteries can be considered corrosive, and aerosol cans could be considered a reactive waste. Even though we do not have to think twice about throwing any of these in the trash can at home, that's the point --when at work the bulbs, batteries and aerosol spray cans that come out of our offices cannot be simply thrown in the trash. We all need to think about how to dispose of these universal wastes.

The list below provides general rules on how to handle universal wastes.

Universal Waste Turn In
  • Universal wastes need to be taken to the Building 690 area on the southwest corner of Ent Avenue and Paine Street
  • The Building 690 area is open to accept universal wastes from 8-10 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month 
  • The 21st Space Wing Environmental Flight will provide proper containers for universal waste collection on request
  • Call Wanda Burns at 556-7328 or Bob Tomlinson at 556-8059 for information
Fluorescent Lamps
  • All fluorescent lamps from government facilities are "universal waste" 
  • Never leave lamps at the collection area, Building 690, unless it's attended
  • You do not have to turn in lamps every month but don't keep them more than six months
  • Used lamps must be kept in a closed container unless lamps are being added to the container
  • Containers with used lamps must be marked "used lamps" or "waste lamps" and include the date the first lamp was placed in the container
  • Individual lamps in containers do not require any markings
  • Take special care to manage lamps so they do not break; broken lamps must be cleaned up immediately and placed into an appropriate container for turn in
Batteries
  • Government-generated ni-cad, lithium, alkaline, and mercury batteries are universal wastes
  • Never leave batteries at the collection area, Building 690, unless it's attended
  • You do not have to turn in batteries every month but don't keep them more than six months
  • Container must be closed unless batteries are being placed into the container
  • Container must be marked with the words: "used or waste batteries" and include the date the first battery was placed in the container
  • To help us prepare the batteries for shipment, please bag (except for alkaline batteries) all batteries individually prior to turn-in
Aerosol Spray Cans
  • All government-generated aerosol cans (empty, partial or full expired) will be managed as universal wastes
  • Remove pressure nozzle
  • Never leave aerosol cans at the collection area, Building 690, unless it's attended
  • Container must be closed unless aerosol cans are being placed into the container
  • You do not have to turn in aerosol cans every month but don't keep them more than six months
  • Containers with aerosol spray cans must be marked "used aerosol cans" or "waste aerosols" and include the date the first can was placed in the container

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