Frequent Questions

Must thermostats continue to be managed under a separate set of universal waste regulations, or have thermostats been incorporated in the Mercury-Containing Equipment Final Rule?

The August 5, 2005, Mercury-Containing Equipment Final Rule added mercury-containing equipment (MCE) to the federal list of universal wastes regulated under the RCRA hazardous waste regulations (70 FR 45508; August 5, 2005). This rulemaking includes mercury thermostats. Mercury thermostats, which formerly were a separate category of universal waste, are now incorporated into the spent MCE category. Batteries and lamps, although they may contain mercury, remain covered under their respective sections of the Universal Waste Rule (§§273.13(a), 273.13(d), 273.33(a), and 273.33(d)). The specific management standards for batteries and lamps in Part 273 are more appropriate than the standards in the MCE Final Rule (70 FR 45508, 45512; August 5, 2005).

The August 5, 2005, Federal Register is available at the following URL:

It is important to note that some states are authorized to add wastes that are not federal universal wastes to their lists of universal wastes. Therefore, in some states, spent MCE may already be regulated as a universal waste.

This guidance represents clarification of the federal regulations. Since most states are authorized to implement the Federal regulations, you should contact your state environmental agency for guidance on MCE.
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