The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Sustainability Office wants to remind you that some things you may throw out can have a destructive effect on the environment.

What is universal waste?

Universal waste is composed of materials commonly used in consumer goods that are hazardous to the environment and human health when disposed of improperly.

Examples include lightbulbs, ballasts from fluorescent lights, batteries, and devices like thermostats that contain mercury.

What should I do with universal waste?

Carefully place burnt-out light bulbs into an empty box. Keep a tally of the number of bulbs in the box; only put the same type of bulbs in the box. Avoid overfilling boxes, and never tape bulbs together. Lightbulbs can be stored for 1 year, then must be recycled.

If a lamp breaks:

  • Leave the area for a few minutes so vapors can escape.
  • Wear gloves & glasses to clean up.
  • Scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff cardboard.
  • Use duct tape or a wet paper towel to capture any small pieces.
  • Do not use a vacuum on hard surfaces.
  • Place fragments and all other cleanup items into a sturdy, lined cardboard box and label box with “broken lamps”.
  • You can take the boxes to the Pioneer Restore, or arrange a pickup.

Fluorescent Light Ballasts

It is important to keep ballasts that contain PCBs separate from those that do not. Here are some tips on identifying PCB-containing ballasts:

  • Ballasts manufactured before July 1, 1979, may contain PCBs.
  • Ballasts manufactured between July 1, 1979, and July 1, 1998, that do not contain PCBs must be labeled "No PCBs".
  • If a ballast is not labeled "No PCBs," it is best to assume it contains PCBs unless it is known to be manufactured after 1979.
  • Ballasts manufactured after 1998 are not required to be labeled.

How to Dispose of universal waste

To arrange to drop off these or other universal waste items, contact the Pioneer Restore at or 608.342.3978

Contact Information


0103 Giese Facility Management Bldg