Waste Management Program fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Kyra Moore

What is the Universal Waste Rule?

The Universal Waste Rule (UWR) is a set of federal environmental regulations adopted with modifications by Missouri. The effective date of the rule in Missouri was Jan. 31, 1999. The rule can be found in the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Regulations located in Title 10, Division 25, Chapter 16 of the Code of State Regulations (CSR), which references portions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 40 Part 273. The UWR identifies all universal wastes in Missouri and states how they can be handled in a lawful manner. The rule was designed to give generators of certain types of hazardous wastes an option to manage those wastes under less stringent UWR requirements rather than by the more stringent existing hazardous waste regulations. This alternative is offered to help reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and others that generate certain common hazardous wastes and to encourage collection, recycling and proper disposal of these wastes. To completely understand the rule, read both state and federal regulations. The wastes covered under this rule are described in the “What are the different types of universal wastes” section below.

What are the basic requirements for managing universal wastes?

Anyone who wants to manage one or more of the universal wastes noted below under the UWR must determine his or her handler status. Large quantity handlers accumulate 5000 kilograms (approximately 11,000 pounds) or more of universal waste calculated collectively, at any time. Small quantity handlers accumulate less than 5,000 kg (approx. 11,000 lbs.). The handler counts only those wastes that will be managed as universal wastes. All other hazardous wastes are calculated separately and determine the “hazardous waste generator status” of the business.

The designation as a large quantity handler remains through the end of the calendar year in which the 5,000 kg is accumulated.

It is important to note, disposal of hazardous wastes in Missouri sanitary landfills (except for very small amounts) has been illegal since Jan. 1, 1994 (Section 260.432 Revised Statutes of Missouri [RSMo]).

Large and small quantity handlers

  • Must prevent releases to the environment.
  • Must not dispose of a universal waste into the environment.
  • Must not dilute or treat a universal waste or break or crush mercury containing lamps without a Missouri Resource Recovery Certification or an applicable hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal permit.
  • Must follow the waste management requirements stated in the rule for the particular waste(s) being managed.
  • Small quantity handlers generating only universal wastes under this rule do not need to register or obtain a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identification number.
  • Large quantity handlers must register and obtain an EPA identification number if a number has not previously been obtained.
  • Must label waste as a “universal waste” as described in the rule.
  • May accumulate universal wastes on-site for up to one year or accumulate universal wastes for more than one year for the sole purpose of facilitating proper recovery or disposal.
  • May accept universal wastes from off-site and keep them for up to one year (except for universal waste pesticides).
  • Must train employees on proper handling and emergency procedures.
  • Must respond to spills and manage the spill residue as hazardous waste.
  • May self-transport the universal waste to an authorized destination facility.
    • If self-transporting, the handler must meet applicable universal waste transporter requirements in the UWR and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.
  • Small quantity handlers need not keep records of universal wastes received or shipped; large quantity handlers have record-keeping requirements.
  • Must comply with export requirements for foreign shipments, if applicable .


  • Must not dispose of universal waste into the environment.
  • Must not dilute or treat except to respond to spills.
  • Must comply with the applicable universal waste transporter requirements in the UWR and DOT regulations.
  • Are not required to use hazardous waste manifests.
  • May store universal waste at transfer facilities for up to 10 days.
  • Must respond to releases and manage spill residues as a hazardous waste.
  • Must only transport universal waste to an authorized destination facility.
    • Pesticides must be taken to a universal waste pesticide collection program, to a destination facility, sent back to the registrant conducting the recall or to a Missouri Certified Resource Recovery facility that has authorization to accept universal waste pesticides.
  • Must comply with export requirements for foreign shipments, if applicable.

Destination Facilities

  • Due to revisions in federal regulations that were effective Nov. 30, 2001, in Missouri, all destination facilities, including Missouri certified resource recovery facilities, must have a hazardous waste permit for storage.
  • Must have an appropriate hazardous waste storage, treatment or disposal facility permit and comply with the terms of the permit for the management of universal waste received.
  • Must obtain and comply with the terms of a Missouri Resource Recovery Facility Certification, if the destination facility recycles universal waste.
  • Must send waste off-site only to another destination facility or a foreign destination.
  • Must keep records.

Who is affected by this rule?


Universal wastes are generated by small and large businesses, municipalities, churches and schools. The UWR offers another option that eases the regulatory burden on businesses generating these wastes by streamlining the administrative requirements. For example, certain small businesses that generate only universal wastes and manage them under this rule do not need to notify the state of their activities or pay hazardous waste fees and taxes on that waste. Further, the rule extends the amount of time businesses can accumulate universal wastes on-site to a year or more, as noted above. It also allows companies to transport the wastes with a common carrier (universal waste transporter), instead of a hazardous waste transporter, and it no longer requires companies to prepare a hazardous waste manifest (the transporter prepares a shipping paper).


Households are not subject to hazardous waste management standards and are allowed to dispose of wastes covered under the universal waste rule with their trash. “Household waste” is defined in 40 CFR Part 261.4(b)(1). Residents are encouraged to take their universal wastes to local collection centers or events when these are available for recycling or disposal. However, household hazardous wastes, which are of the same type as universal wastes and which are segregated from the solid waste stream, must either be managed in compliance with this rule or 10 CSR 25-4.261(2)(A)10.


Local communities can work with businesses and residents to encourage proper recycling or disposal of universal wastes. By easing the regulatory burden on businesses, more collection centers may become available. Communities can establish collection programs or help local businesses set up collection programs in their area based on the guidance in the rule.

What are the different types of universal wastes?

Universal wastes in Missouri’s rule include the following items:

  • Batteries

    • Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries
    • Mercury, silver or lithium batteries
    • Small, sealed lead-acid batteries found in electronic equipment, mobile telephones, portable computers and emergency backup lighting
    • Lead-acid vehicle batteries have two options for management:
      • The provisions of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 266.80
      • The UWR in 40 CFR Part 273
  • Pesticides

    • Universal waste pesticides include:
      • Suspended or cancelled pesticides part of a voluntary or mandatory recall
      • Unwanted, unused or outdated pesticide products that are collected and managed as part of a waste pesticide collection program
    • These have often been stored for long periods of time at businesses or in sheds or barns. In Missouri, pesticides cannot be sent to other universal waste handlers, but may be sent to a universal waste pesticide collection program, to a Missouri Certified Resource Recovery Facility or to a Universal Waste Destination Facility. Missouri does not allow transmission of pesticides between handlers due to the high toxicity level of these wastes and the belief that additional controls are necessary to assure adequate protection of human health and the environment when these wastes are handled. In addition, universal waste pesticide collection programs in Missouri must comply with the Standard Operating Procedure for Universal Waste Pesticide Collection Programs in Missouri that are referenced in the rule. Pesticides may be transmitted between pesticide collection programs in compliance with the rule. Missouri also added an option for allowing Missouri Certified Resource Recovery Facilities to accept pesticides if their certifications allow.
  • Mercury containing equipment

    • Thermostats
    • Mercury switches
    • Mercury containing thermometers
    • Manometers
  • Mercury containing lamps

    • Fluorescent
    • High-pressure sodium
    • Mercury vapor
    • Metal halide
    • High intensity discharge (HID) lamps
    • Other hazardous incandescent lamps

While EPA has finalized regulations including aerosol cans as a universal waste, Missouri is still evaluating this set of regulations and has not incorporated them by reference. Until that time aerosol cans will need to continue to be managed as “regular” hazardous waste.

Additional Information

Standard Operating Procedure for Universal Waste Pesticide Collection Programs in Missouri
Code of Federal Regulations
Missouri Code of State Regulations for Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Revised Statutes

Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.

For more information