Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Don’t Trash That Fluorescent Lamp! Recycle Your Spent CFLs and Linear Tubes

 You may already know that installing fluorescent lights (compact fluorescent lamps or linear tubes) in your home saves energy, which means you save money. Their efficiency and long life offers another way for you to help protect the environment by conserving precious resources and reducing landfill waste. 

But did you know that fluorescent lamps also should be disposed of properly with other household hazardous waste products such as pesticides, paint, batteries, and thermostats? Lane County Waste Management, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and local electric utilities in the Eugene-Springfield community have teamed up to create a convenient residential recycling program for spent CFLs and linear fluorescent tubes (4-foot maximum on tubes). 

Why is it Important to Recycle?

Fluorescent lamps contain an extremely small amount of mercury—it’s what makes them so efficient The amount of mercury is so small that it does not pose a health risk to you or your family. However, we are working to keep large accumulations of these lamps out of the landfills.

Since fluorescent lamps contain mercury is it better for the environment to use incandescent bulbs? No—you need to considerate broader perspective of the energy generation. Using energy-efficient products like fluorescent lamps is one way to curb our region’s growing energy demands. Experts agree that given a choice between fluorescent lighting and ordinary incandescent bulbs, fluorescents are better for you and the environment because they save money, conserve energy, and reduce landfill waste, and power plant emissions.

Other Helpful Tips:

• To reduce the risk of bulb breakage and contamination, wrap the bulb in a sealed plastic bag, do not tape.

• Never incinerate fluorescent lamps.

• If your ENERGY STAR® qualified bulb fails within its two-year warranty period return it to the place of purchase or contact the manufacturer with the original receipt for a refund or replacement.

Should I Be Concerned About Using Fluorescent Lamps in My Home?

Fluorescent lamps are safe to use in your home. No mercury is released when the bulbs are in use and they pose no danger to you or your family when handled properly. In CFLs, for example, an extremely small amount of mercury, an average of five milligrams, is sealed within the glass tubing. For a basis of comparison, there are about 500 milligrams to two grams of mercury in your average home thermometer. It would take between 100 to 400 CFLs to equal that same amount of mercury.

What Should I Do if a Fluorescent Lamp Breaks?

In the unlikely event your bulb breaks, be certain to sweep up—don’t vacuum—all of the glass fragments and phosphor powder. Place the broken pieces in a plastic bag and wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles. Put the used towel in the plastic bag as well. Take to the Lane County Glenwood Transfer Station for recycling.

It is a good practice to always clean up any products containing mercury with care and common sense. Please note that products with liquid mercury (also called elemental mercury) require different clean up and disposal procedures. For more information, call Lane County Waste Management at 541-682-4120.

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