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Recycling and Waste Management

Universal and Electronic Waste

Keep lead and other toxic metals out of UCSD trash by properly disposing of universal and electronic wastes.


All used batteries are hazardous waste. Toxic heavy metals and corrosive properties of batteries make them unsuitable for disposal in the municipal trash because they can contaminate surface and ground water. Used batteries generated at UCSD are collected by the EH&S Environmental Management Facility for recycling or disposal as hazardous waste.

Find out more information on battery disposal at UCSD

Cell Phones

There are three easy ways to dispose of unwanted cell phones:

1. Dispose of them in one of the collection bins set up on campus. They are located at:

  • Price Center Bookstore
  • College Residential Life Offices

2. For collection via Campus Mail, address the package to "Cell Phone" at Mail Code 0958.

3. Return unwanted cell phones to the service provider. California law [PDF] requires vendors to accept their returned products.

Electronic Devices or E-waste

E-waste is considered hazardous waste and must be properly disposed of by EH&S.

These include broken, non-inventoried (no UCID number), small electronic devices, and battery containing equipment such as:

  • TVs and monitors
  • Computers, keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners
  • Telephones, cell phones, and answering machines
  • Radios, stereo equipment, tape players, and recorders
  • VCRs, CD players
  • Battery-containing devices (calculators, timers, flashlights, etc.)
  • Some appliances, including microwaves, air conditioners, and furnaces
  • Thermostats, relays, switches, and gauges

Inventoried equipment (equipment with a UCID number) must go out through Surplus Sales. See How to Send Equipment to Surplus Sales.

How to Dispose of Unwanted Electronic Devices:

Isotope and Ethidium Bromide Contamination Warning

If isotopes were used near the device, request a radiation decontamination clearance from EH&S. This should be your first step. If equipment shows signs of radiation contamination, follow EH&S's on how to decontaminate and safely prepare the unwanted device for disposal.

If it was used near ethidium bromide special precautions must be taken. See Handling Ethidium Bromide for clean-up instructions.

  1. If the equipment is clear of radiation and/or ethidium bromide contamination, clean and decontaminate it. Scrub visible spill/chemical remnants with warm soapy water and wipe all surfaces with a freshly made 10% bleach solution.
  2. Green Tag Contact the Safety Office to green tag your computer/e-waste to indicate it is hazard free.
    For School of Biological Sciences labs ONLY. All others, please contact EH&S for assistance.
  3. Using the Online Waste Tag Program (OTP), create a EH&S hazardous waste tag (select “Universal Waste” and ”Electronic Waste (Non Surplus)”), tag it, and submit a hazardous waste pick-up request.

For more information, contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility at (858) 534-2753.

Fluorescent Bulbs, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps

  • If you are a campus hazardous waste generator and have a Waste Generator Number (WGN):  
    • Package the bulbs in a sturdy bag or container large enough to enclose the waste (so the waste is not sticking out the top or sides of the container).
    • Keep the container closed when waste is not being added.
    • Attach a completed hazardous waste tag to the container at the time you begin accumulating waste.
    • Request a hazardous waste collection 
  • If you are not a hazardous waste generator and do not have a WGN:
    • Contact Facilities Management to have light fixtures replaced in campus facilities.
    • Facilities Management will handle proper disposal of discarded bulbs.

Toner Cartidges

Recycle your empty toner cartridge:

  1. Place the empty toner cartridge in a box.
  2. Label the box: Toner Recycle.
  3. Send an e-mail to Material Support Services ( with the following information:
    • Subject: Toner Recycle
    • Your name
    • Pickup location
    • Quantity
    • Index number 
      • Note: There is no charge for the pick up of the toner; it is used for tracking purposes.
  4. A driver will pick up the empty toner cartridge within 24 to 48 hours after you've placed the request.

Uncontaminated Sharps

These sharps must be free of any biohazard, chemical, or radioactive contamination.

  • Container:
    • Choose a rigid, leak-proof, puncture-resistant sharps container. A cardboard box lined with a plastic bag will do or you can go with a specialty container sold on Marketplace.
    • Remove or deface any labels or biohazard symbols that may be on the container.
  • Use:
    • Store the container near where the sharps are generated.
    • Carefully place sharps in the container in an orderly fashion.
    • Do not place free liquids, such as full syringes, in sharps containers.
    • Sharps cannot extend above the "fill" line.
  • Disposal:
    • Seal the full container with tape so it can't be easily opened.
    • Label the container with the words "non-hazardous sharps waste"
    • Place the sealed container in the regular trash.

Note: Custodial staff will not collect boxes of broken glass weighing more than 50 pounds.

Questions or concerns? Contact your School Safety Officer at or 858-333-9791.