New Rules For Managing Waste Fluorescent Lamps in Ohio

January 2005

On December 7, 2004, new rules went into effect in Ohio that significantly tighten the requirements applicable to the management of waste fluorescent lamps.  Such lamps are often considered to be a “hazardous waste” under State and federal requirements due to the presence of mercury, a toxic and volatile metal, present in the lamp.

Previously, when fluorescent lamps were destined for recycling, they were not defined as a waste by Ohio EPA and, therefore, were not subject to regulation under the State’s hazardous waste rules.   However, in its recent rule, which is codified at OAC Rule 3745-51-02, Ohio EPA now considers such waste lamps to be “spent materials,” which are regulated as a hazardous waste even when recycled, unless they are managed as universal wastes.

This new regulation applies to many businesses that dispose of fluorescent lamps.   Such businesses have the option of handling their lamps as hazardous waste or as universal waste.   Managing hazardous waste lamps under the universal waste rules eases certain regulations imposed on generators of spent lamps and may be advantageous for many businesses.

Universal waste handlers include persons who generate, receive and store, but do not treat, dispose of or recycle universal waste generated elsewhere.    The universal waste rules also allow these handlers to accept and store universal waste from off-site without having to obtain a storage permit.  Generators of universal waste, such as fluorescent lamps, who want to take advantage of the universal waste rule instead of the hazardous waste generator rules, must comply with various requirements, including: 

In addition, large quantity universal waste handlers (those who accumulate more than 5,000 kg of universal waste at any time) must notify Ohio EPA in writing and obtain an EPA hazardous waste ID number prior to exceeding the 5,000 kg storage limit. 

Ohio EPA has published a guidance document summarizing the universal waste rules for generators of fluorescent lamps, which is available on its website at www.epa.state.oh.us/dhwm/guideancedocs.    For more information on the proper management of fluorescent lamps, please contact one of the environmental attorneys at Frost Brown Todd LLC.

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