Department of Energy & Environment

DC Agency Top Menu

Cold Emergency -The District's Cold Emergency Plan is currently active.

The Cold Emergency Plan is part of the 2015-2016 Winter Plan.


-A +A
Bookmark and Share

Proper Management of Bulbs and Batteries

This information was prepared to address questions frequently asked by property managers regarding management of Universal Waste. Those other than property managers should consult the Universal Waste Management Regulations or call DDOE’s Hazardous Waste Program for assistance in determining how to comply.

Spent compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries are considered Universal Waste in the District of Columbia and must be managed in accordance with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) regulations.

What do I need to do?

  1. You must manage (and dispose of) this type of waste in compliance with the law. You may NOT throw this type of waste in your property’s regular trash.
  2. Your method of disposal will determine the waste's classification (Universal Waste v. Hazardous Waste).
  3. Before you generate any of these waste items, apply for a US EPA ID Number. According to DDOE regulations, each facility address where Universal Waste and/or Hazardous Waste are generated must register for a US EPA ID Number. Apply for ID number, fill out the EPA form and return the form and application fee to the DDOE address listed below.
  4. If you generate other types of wastes such as used oil, pesticides, paint thinner, you must register.

Methods to Manage Your Waste

Shipping or On-Site Pick-Up:

If you choose to ship your spent, intact (unbroken) lamps to an approved disposal facility or arrange for a pick-up from your facility, the waste is classified as Universal Waste. The key distinction is that the lamps are unbroken.

Drum-Top Crushing:

Crushing is the intentional breaking of fluorescent and other mercury lamps for the purpose of volume reduction. Crushing reduces the physical volume of lamps but does not recover any mercury. Drum-top crushing is done using a mechanical device that fits on top of a 55-gallon collection drum. Whole lamps are broken in the system but components are not separated, and the drum will contain hazardous mercury, phosphor powder, glass and mixed metals. Crushing lamps into drums releases mercury into the filter, which also becomes hazardous.

If you choose to use a drum-top crusher and crush your fluorescent light bulbs, a new hazardous waste determination must be made.  Note that if you do not test your low-mercury lamps to prove them non-hazardous, assume they are hazardous waste and manage them according to DDOE Hazardous Waste regulations.

Disposal of batteries:

A battery is a device consisting of one or more electrically connected electrochemical cells designed to receive, store, and deliver electric energy. An electrochemical cell is a system consisting of an anode, cathode, and an electrolyte, plus such connections (electrical and mechanical) as may be needed to allow the cell to deliver or receive electrical energy. Regulated batteries also include an intact, unbroken battery from which the electrolyte has been removed.

  • All spent, intact (not broken or leaking) batteries generated must be managed as Universal Waste.
  • Broken or leaking batteries must be managed as Hazardous Waste.

As a property manager, you may also be generating other waste streams including but not limited to used oil, waste petroleum products, waste paint thinners, waste solvents, and waste pesticides. These materials may also be subject to management under the Hazardous Waste regulations.

For more information contact one of the following inspectors:

Victoria North - 202.535.1909
Lawrence Williams - 202.535.2298
Jan Walwyn - 202.671.5120


Contact TTY: