Products containing mercury, including fluorescent lamps, need to be handled and recycled properly to effectively contain and prevent mercury vapor from releasing into the environment. Mercury-containing waste that isn't properly recycled poses a serious environmental and health concern and can be regulated more stringently. The EPA estimates recycling rates of fluorescent lamps at only 20 to 25 percent, leaving the majority to be placed in dumpsters and eventually end up in landfills—where they may emit hazardous mercury vapor into the environment. The consumer recycling rate has been estimated to be even lower—possibly at less than 2 percent. One broken 4-foot fluorescent lamp in a small room can release enough mercury vapor to exceed the OSHA mercury exposure 8-hour limit—posing a significant occupational health risk. Plus, mercury vapor can be emitted for days after a single bulb is broken.
Fluorescent lamps can easily be recycled or disposed if burned out. Available recycling methods include:
- Shop CFL recycling and mercury storage solutions.
- Use Mercury VaporLok® Bags for safely accumulating spent fluorescent lamps for recycling. Contact Us for a Quote.
- Waste Management LampTracker®: The prepaid program includes recycling containers, shipping both ways via UPS or FedEx ground, recycling of the wastes and complete online documentation of every container ordered and recycled.
- State Collection Sites: Check with your local and/or state regulators and use Earth911.com to find a drop-off near you. Also note that many National retailers accept spent lamps for recycling.