With the increase in LED usage, many consumers are replacing old bulbs with more efficient options. However, disposing of CFLs takes a little bit more care than just tossing them in the trash.
Long before LEDs hit the market, manufacturers and consumers had been looking for more efficient and more affordable lighting options. Today, LEDs are the undisputed leader in the industry and as technology continues to advance, LEDs are becoming more and more cost-effective.
As people are replacing their old fluorescent and CFLs, they are left with a new dilemma – what to do with those old bulbs.
Both CFL bulbs contain hazardous materials and require special disposal. Fortunately, proper disposal options are readily available in most areas.
Disposing of CFLs
Before LEDs, CFLs were a good option for consumers that were looking to make an energy efficient and cost saving lighting choice. Over 100 million were sold in 2009 and many people have become familiar with their curly shape.
The problem with CFLs is that each bulb contains a small amount of mercury. Mercury is toxic to humans and is difficult to clean up and remove from the environment if it is leaked into the ground.
CFLs should never be put directly into the trash when they burn out.
Fortunately, there are options for disposing of old CFLs that aren’t harmful to the environment.
1. Disposing of CFLs with your garbage service
If you are looking to dispose of old CFL bulbs, the best place to start is by contacting your trash service company or recycling company. Finding their contact information should be as easy as looking at your last bill. When you call, ask if they offer CFL or mercury recycling. If they do, set up a pickup time and clarify any restrictions or policies the company has. If they don’t recycle mercury, consider suggesting that they do. Mercury recycling is important for the environment and taking the time to discuss its importance is an easy and meaningful conversation to have – especially if your garbage service is handled by the local government.
2. Disposing of CFLs through your local government
Whether or not your trash service is handled by a private contractor, your local government, either city, county or parish, is ultimately responsible for the waste disposal in your area.
Contact your local sanitation service and inquire about mercury disposal in your area. While curbside pickup may not be available, many areas have designated drop-off locations or periodic collection days for CFLs and other hazardous waste. If your local collection agency doesn’t offer a mercury collection, ask specifically how to safely dispose of mercury.