Lights & lamps

Fluorescent lights and some other types of lights and lamps contain toxic chemicals that fall under the dangerous waste regulations. Businesses can choose to manage their lights and lamps as universal waste, an often easier option, but it requires they follow certain procedures.

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Not a business?

If you are a household or individual, please go to 1-800-RECYCLE or find a LightRecycle Washington collection center near you.

Can you manage lamps as universal waste?

You can manage any type of lamp that designates as dangerous waste as universal waste.

Are your used lamps dangerous waste?

When determining if used lamps are dangerous waste:

  1. Assume that they are.
  2. Sample and test to determine if they are, in fact, dangerous waste.
  3. Use manufacturer’s information, safety data sheets, and other available information to determine toxicity.

How do you manage lights and lamps as universal waste?

Because glass bulbs can easily break, universal waste rules for lights and lamps require specific handling.


  • Store lamps in structurally sound containers, such as cardboard boxes or fiber drums.
  • Keep containers closed when not adding lamps.
  • Immediately clean up any broken lamps, and store debris in a closed container.


Clearly label individual lamps or containers that are storing lamps with the following:

  • The words "universal waste lamps," "waste lamps," or "used lamps."
  • The accumulation start date. Used and unused lamps become waste on the date you decide to discard them.


  • You can accumulate lamps for one year from the date you start generating.
  • An extension to the one-year accumulation limit is allowed if your facility needs more time to collect enough items to facilitate proper recovery, treatment, or disposal.
  • Document your accumulation by marking the first date of accumulation.

Recycle or dispose

  • Do not crush lamps if handling as universal waste.
  • Send universal waste lamps to another handler or a destination facility (i.e. any business that is already managing universal waste, government-sponsored collections, or hazardous waste management firms).
  • All universal waste must go to a destination facility.

Frequently asked questions