Fluorescent Lamps / CFLs
Beginning February 2006 the State of California banned the disposal of common household items such as fluorescent lamps and household batteries in household trash. You must treat these items as household hazardous waste.
Household Batteries includes AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9-volt, and all others, both rechargeable and single use.
Fluorescent Lamps includes fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, metal halide lamps, and sodium vapor lamps.
- California Product Stewardship Council
- US EPA’s Mercury in Your Environment
- Department of Toxics Substances Control Board (PDF)
- Energy Star
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury vapor. Although the amount of mercury vapor in each lamp is small, care should still be taken in handling and disposing of fluorescent lamps.
When CFLs and fluorescent lamps have burned out, you can recycle the lamps. Recycling CFLs and fluorescent lamps captures the mercury vapor, which can be reused in new lamps. Due to advanced recycling procedures, 99% of an old fluorescent lamp can be recycled into a new fluorescent lamp.
Fluorescent lamps come in many shapes and sizes including:
- 4 foot, 6 foot & 8 foot linears
- CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps)
- Corkscrew-type bulbs & U-tubes
What to do with broken florescent lamps?
- Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
- Turn off central heat/air conditioning.
- Collect the pieces using a stiff piece of paper, such as an index card.
- Pat the area with the sticky side of packing tape to remove glass shards.
- Put all material into a sealed container.
- Broken bulbs are accepted with the Agency’s Hazardous Waste programs
For additional recommendations when a CFL or other mercury-containing bulb breaks, visit the US EPA’s Mercury in Your Environment website.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were discontinued for use in fluorescent ballasts manufactured after 1979. Typically, ballasts which do not contain PCBs will be labeled with a sticker. Ballasts without labels must be disposed as hazardous waste. While non-PCB ballasts can be disposed in the garbage, it is environmentally preferable to recycle them as scrap metal; see listing below. Do not put ballasts in the curbside recycling cart.