Recyling, Surplus, Special Waste Disposal

The Safety office encourages responsible disposal of all waste. Hazardous waste disposal is managed separately, through our he Safety office encourages responsible disposal of all waste. Hazardous waste disposal is managed separately, through our Hazardous Waste Management program.

These are the common items that should be recycled or surplused:


There are three UTIA locations where used batteries may be disposed of:

  • Biosystems Engineering lab building in the entrance lobby outside classroom 166
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, Hospital Operations, room B206
  • McCord Hall room 10

Guidelines for recycling and disposal of different battery types: 

Regular alkaline AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt batteries

Regular alkaline AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt batteries can be either recycled or thrown away. Landfill disposal is acceptable because of regulations enacted in 1997 to reduce the mercury in alkaline batteries. We prefer that any used batteries generated on campus be placed in the battery recycling bins. Please do not bring used batteries from home.​

non-rechargeable batteries

Other types of non-rechargeable batteries (includes coin & button batteries, lithium camera batteries, etc.) go in the smaller container in the Biosystems Engineering lab building outside classroom 166.

All rechargeable batteries

All rechargeable batteries (includes batteries from cell phones & computers, rechargeable sealed lead acid batteries, and rechargeable AA, AAA, C or D cells) go in the green battery recycling box at a battery collection station. Follow the directions on the lid of the box. (Exception: lead rechargeable batteries heavier than 2 pounds go in the recycling bin in the Biosystems Engineering Lab Building instead of in a battery box).

​Lead acid batteries

Lead acid batteries (such as most car & tractor batteries) can be recycled and should be placed in the recycling bin at the battery collection station in the lobby area of the Biosystems Engineering Lab Building (outside classroom 166).

Light Bulbs

With the exception of standard household incandescent light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and other types of electrical lamps/bulbs contain mercury and are classified as universal waste, as such there are special disposal requirements.

All non-incandescent light bulbs should be collected in a cardboard box or fiber drub labeled as “Universal Waste – Used Lamps.” Date the container when bulbs are first added and pack with paper or other packing material to reduce breakage. Do not intentionally break the used tubes or bulbs.

When a used lamp container is full, bring it to the quarterly waste pickup or call the Safety office.


Some pre-1977 fluorescent light ballasts contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are toxic and have been classified as persistent organic pollutants. As a regulated waste, PCB-containing ballasts CANNOT be thrown away. Collect PCB-containing ballasts in a closed and labeled container and bring it to the quarterly waste pick-up.

If you are unsure if a ballasts contains PCBs, read the label. If it does not contain PCBs the label will read “No PCBs.” If the label does not indicate the absence of PCB, assume that it is present.

Non-PCB ballasts, although not toxic, are regulated as “Universal Waste” and should also be collected and labeled as “No PCBs.” Non-PCB ballasts should also be brought to the quarterly waste pickup.


The UTK Recycling Office can take any kind of electronic device. Contact the Safety Office or the Recycling Office directly for pick-up options and other considerations.

Paper, Plastic and Aluminum

Please use the appropriate recycling bins for most paper, plastic and aluminum can waste. The UTK Recycling Office website is a great resource for specific guidance and general information.


There are several cardboard recycling bins on the UTIA campus. Check near loading docks and dumpster areas for a bin near you. Be sure to flatten cardboard boxes before putting them inside the bin. For more information on cardboard recycling, check out the Campus Recycling Guide site.


Furniture and other unwanted items should NEVER be stored in hallways, basements or mechanical rooms. Doing so is a fire hazard and is considered in violation of fire code. Most furniture should be sent to surplus, using the surplus property form. However, some metal framed furniture can be recycled. Examples of metal chairs that can be recycled for the scrap metal instead of sent to surplus are:

Hodges Chairs 001
Hodges Chairs 002
Hodges Chairs 003

If you are unsure whether a furniture item is recyclable or not, call the UTK Recycling office.

Wooden Pallets

All wooden pallets can be recycled. For more information about what can and cannot be recycled, contact the UTK Recycling office at 865.974.3480.