What’s the Difference Between Universal Recycling and Hazardous Material Handling?

computer chip and monitor illustrations on left, universal signs for caution, biohazard, and radioactive on right

Proper waste disposal safeguards both the environment and your business. The government levies heavy fines on companies that flout waste management regulations.

However, the regulations’ stringency depends on the type of waste. Hazardous waste is generated from industrial processes and is potentially corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive. Interactions must be meticulously documented, and specialists must handle removing hazardous waste.

By contrast, universal waste is widely used and less dangerous waste. The term was first coined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1995 and includes materials such as computer parts and mercury-containing lamps.

Like hazardous waste, universal waste must be disposed of in a specific way. But, there is more flexibility. For instance, universal waste is often recycled. Companies can also accumulate it for a year rather than a few months. Still, there are record-keeping requirements.

Hazardous material handling is critical, but most companies are primarily concerned with universal waste as it’s more common.

Universal Waste Handling with ViaTeK Solutions

ViaTeK Solutions is a leader in electronic recycling for businesses of all sizes. As part of our dedication to environmental stewardship and convenient electronics recycling for businesses, we take great care in sorting, preparing, and labeling all incoming universal waste materials.

All equipment is labeled by model, make, and serial number so you can track your materials at all times. You will always know where your waste is going and can trust that it’s handled ethically. As part of this promise, ViaTeK offers certificates of completion and updates via email as the end-of-life process of your recycled equipment takes shape.

That’s because, At ViaTeK, we’re proud to be fully certified and compliant with all EPA regulations regarding universal waste recycling and disposal. We understand the importance of properly managing these materials and take that responsibility seriously. Our state-of-the-art facilities allow us to efficiently organize large quantities of laptops, cell phones, and other inoperable or outdated devices.

However, it’s important to note that while ViaTeK Solutions excels in handling universal waste, we do not handle hazardous waste at any of our facilities. As per our designation with the EPA, we strictly adhere to the regulations and guidelines for universal waste management. This designation ensures the safety of our employees and the environment and protects your business from any potential fines or penalties.

What About Lithium-Ion Batteries?

ViaTek Solutions is a recycler, not a hazardous waste management facility. However, we accept and recycle batteries in electronics like cell phones, laptops, and computers. This distinction can get confusing as it brings up a grey area between ViaTeK Solutions and hazardous waste management.

Many electronic devices like smartphones contain lithium-ion batteries. Lithium itself is classified as a hazardous material by the Department of Transportation (DOT), while lithium-ion is a specific type of battery that contains lithium but is also rechargeable. These batteries can be corrosive or reactive if not appropriately handled, especially in enormous quantities.

So, if ViaTeK Solutions is a universal waste recycler that does not handle hazardous waste, how can we accept lithium-ion batteries? The answer is simple. Our three facilities will never house enough lithium or lithium-ion to be considered hazardous waste, so we never cross that threshold that requires DOT involvement. Instead, we adhere to stringent transport regulations and quickly recycle the batteries in our facilities, ultimately keeping us below the threshold of hazardous waste.

ViaTeK Solutions has partnerships with reputable and certified hazardous waste handlers to properly dispose of hazardous materials that may accidentally end up in our universal waste stream. This detail ensures that all materials are handled safely and responsibly.


Recycling outdated and inoperable IT equipment can be complex and confusing, especially when properly handling universal waste containing batteries. ViaTeK Solutions is here to simplify the process.

As a trusted and certified provider of universal waste recycling, we ensure that all materials get handled in an ethical, compliant, and environmentally friendly–that brings convenience to our customers. Our commitment to environmental responsibility and strict adherence to regulations makes us the ideal choice for any business looking to properly dispose of their electronic devices and lithium-ion-based batteries.

Remember, recycling universal waste is good for the environment. It helps conserve natural resources and reduces the amount of dangerous waste disposed of in landfills or incinerators. Moreover, recycling often costs less than traditional disposal methods, saving your business money in the long run.

Don’t risk hefty fines and environmental damage by mishandling your universal waste. Let ViaTeK Solutions be your partner in responsible recycling. Follow us on Instagram at @viateksolutions for news, updates, and tips on proper waste management practices. Or, if you’re ready to start your order with us, email us at recyclerequest@viateksolutions.com.

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