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Disposal of Fluorescent Bulbs
Compact fluorescent lamps and other energy-efficient lighting such as linear fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain a very small amount of mercury. While mercury is a useful element with many applications, it can pose a threat to human health and the environment if thrown in the trash or flushed down a sink. While the amount of mercury in common household items is small, the cumulative effect is significant when thousands of these items end up in landfills or wastewater treatment facilities. All fluorescent bulbs should be recycled properly to protect public health and the environment.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs, those squiggly, energy-efficient lights otherwise known as CFLs, contain mercury and should always be properly recycled. Retailers like Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, Lowe's Home Improvement, and TrueValue Hardware offer free recycling of CFLs. Simply take the expired, unbroken bulb to the store and place it in the proper recycling receptacle. County residents are encouraged to take advantage of these free retailer programs rather than spending public dollars to dispose of these bulbs through our Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program.
The U.S. EPA website has comprehensive information about CFLs which includes a list of recycling programs.
Fluorescent Tube Bulbs
Residents of Cuyahoga County can recycle fluorescent tube bulbs (6 ft. length max.) in the Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program. If you cannot wait for a free collection and have an immediate need to dispose of your bulbs, you can contact the following companies for disposal information including pricing and specifications. Prices for disposal range from $0.65-$1.00 per bulb.
BETHLEHAM LAMP RECYCLING
890 Front Street
Hellertown, PA 18055
Will send packing box for bulb shipment. Customer pays for box.
ENVIRONMENTAL SPECIALISTS, INC.
Prices starting at 65 cents per bulb. Call for more information.
FLUORESCENT RECYCLING, INC.
7260 Neville Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
Call for appointment. Drop-off and pick-up available, 8-4:30 (M-F). Fee charged.
8700 Brewster Road
Bainbridge, OH 44023
Supplies boxes for shipping lamps to recycling facility. Pick-up available. Call for drop-off information.
Fluorescent Bulbs from Businesses
For a list of bulb recyclers that accept fluorescents from businesses, visit our Recycling Directory for Business & Industry. Use the drop-down box to highlight “Fluorescent Bulbs.” For more information about mercury and fluorescent lighting facts, log onto www.lamprecycle.org
Other mercury items
The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District provides a free mercury disposal program for other household mercury items. These items include mercury fever thermometers, thermostats, switches found in appliances, and liquid mercury.
Cleaning up a mercury spill
In December 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new guidelines on how to deal with mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs that break in the home. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury sealed in the glass tubing. When broken, some of the mercury is released as mercury vapor. The bulb will continue to leak mercury vapor until it is cleaned up and removed from the home. To minimize exposure, the EPA offers these guidelines on dealing with a broken bulb:
- Homeowners should clear the room of people and pets, and then open a window or door to the outdoors for 10 minutes. Central heating and cooling systems should be turned off as well.
- All broken glass and visible powder from the bulb should be placed in a sealable container, along with anything used to clean up the broken bulb. The container should then be placed in an outdoor trash container or covered area until the materials can be disposed of properly.
- For several hours after the breakage, continue to air out the room and leave HVAC systems off.
For detailed information on proper CFL disposal and for printable brochures, click here.