Quick Recycling Tip: How to Recycle Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

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This post is part of an attempt to do something like 100 recycling tips for damn near anything in something close to, anyway, 100 days. We’ll see how that goes. When the 100 Recycling Tips are all published here on Easy Ways to Go Green, we’ll do a master list so that every link exists on one single page for everyone to be able to link over to, or to use as a reference guide when questions on how to recycle different things in your life inevitably come up.

How to Recycle 100 Common Things: #5 Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

How to Recycle Compact=

At this point, it might be safe to say that everyone knows about compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and how they save more energy and last longer (even if they cost a bit more) than standard incandescent light bulbs. But they don’t last forever — eventually, they too will burn out. So can they be recycled? The answer is yes.

Recycling CFLs is important, and a key front on the recycling effort overall. Why? Because they contain mercury, which is better off being recycled and not dumped into landfills, where it ends up contaminating the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs will tend to break when thrown into a trash compactor, dumpster or trash can, or when they end up in an incinerator. Recycling avoids this problem. Besides the negatives, recycling allows for the glass and other various metal parts to be reused.

So how can you help out the environment and recycle your old CFLs? There are a couple of ways, and more links below. Start by inquiring at your local retailers, the types of places that sold you the CFLs in the first place: hardware stores like ACE, Home Depot and big box stores like IKEA often have recycling programs right there in the store. Others may not, but will direct you to where the CFLs may be properly recycled. Second, you can contact your local waste collection agency by visiting Earth911.com.

Helpful Links on Recycling Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs or CFLs:
Environmental Protection Agency Site on recycling practices for compact fluorescent light bulbs, or look for even more specific info for consumers here.

Earth 911 is a perfect place to begin your search.

Plastic Bag Recycling dot Org. The website name pretty much says it all. The site includes a state by state guide for where to find recycling centers that will accept your plastic grocery store bags.

Check out eHow where they offer more ideas about recycling plastic grocery store bags.

Information on Mother Nature Network which contains expert info on recycling old CFLs.

Planet Green offers info on how to Recycle Your Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs with Ease.


  1. As this blog post states, it is important for consumers to take the right steps in recycling CFLs and fluorescent lamps. 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.

    Mercury-containing waste that isn’t properly recycled poses a serious environmental and health concern. It is important to encourage recycling of mercury-containing products, such as CFLs. However, there is still much work to be done. Safe recycling facilities exist, but should be encouraged by new rules and regulations. New legislation should also ensure that used fluorescent lamps are packaged in configurations proven to effectively contain mercury vapor emitted from broken lamps. Read more at vaporlok.blogspot.com/2010/07/additional-state-regulations.html

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