How to Dispose of Your CFLs Properly
Several household products contain mercury. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) present an opportunity to prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health. A CFL uses 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb, therefore, reducing mercury emissions by the same percentage. And, a CFL lasts at least six times longer than an incandescent bulb.
When products with mercury, such as CFLs, are broken, disposed of improperly or incinerated, they release mercury into our environment. While federal solid waste rules do not legally considered CFLs for your home hazardous waste, it is still best for the environment to dispose of them properly upon burnout. Recycling programs exists for mercury in older non-digital thermostats and mercury thermometers, but residential CFL recycling programs are just now appearing. Only large commercial users of tubular fluorescent lamps are required to recycle. Residential recycling programs are not yet available in most regions. The website www.earth911.org will identify your nearest residential mercury recycling facility or mail disposal method. Just choose “Fluorescent Bulbs,” enter your zip code and click “GO.” The automated hotline, 1-800-CLEAN-UP, can also give you the same information. If the site or hotline number does not have your local information, call your local or municipal government entity responsible for waste collection or household hazardous waste.
As energy-efficient lighting becomes more popular, it is important that we dispose of the products safely and responsibly. If you break a CFL, clean it up safely. And always dispose of it properly to keep CFLs working for the environment.