January Tip~How to Recycle your CFL’s

Over the holidays one of our CFL flood lamps burned out. It got me thinking, by now most of us have made the switch to CFL’s in some of our lighting both at home and in the office. But what a lot of people don’t know is that these lights need special care in disposal. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have mercury sealed within their glass tubing. The same is true of linear fluorescent tubes, leaving consumers wondering how to recycle their light bulbs. The obvious concern of many consumers is carrying out proper energy-saving light bulb disposal that doesn’t harm the environment.

Without mercury, these lamps could not operate. Since mercury is a naturally occurring element (Hg on the periodic table) which is toxic to humans, this might seem troublesome. But it’s really not. The mercury is only released when the bulbs break. So, as long as they remain intact or in use~No Worries! The key to success is to recycle light bulbs containing mercury at the end of their useful life. Recycling keeps harmful mercury vapor out of landfills, groundwater and the atmosphere.

Sounds easy enough. So how do you properly dispose of Energy Efficient Light bulbs:

Since most bulbs are broken during installation and removal. To cut down on the risk of creating a mess, slide a small sandwich bag over the bulb prior to handling it. That way, if the bulb slips from your hand and falls to the ground, the mess will already be contained.

Once the bulb is removed all you have to do is drop it off at a local recycling center. Fortunately, proper energy-saving light bulb disposal is getting more convenient all the time. Most Home Depot stores have a recycling bin for disposal. Another great knowledge resource is EARTH911.com This site will help you narrow your search for an option that makes it easy for you to recycle fluorescent light bulbs and protect the environment.

So, you may be thinking what if I accidentally break a CFL?

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), these are the procedures to follow if a bulb is smashed:

* Open the windows and let the room air out for 15 to 30 minutes

* Using disposable gloves, scoop the glass onto a piece of cardboard.

* Wipe the area with a wet paper towel.

* For smaller pieces of glass and powder, use duct tape to pull up the fragments.

* Put all of the debris as well as the duct tape and gloves into a plastic bag, put into a bulb recycling kit or contact your town office for information on disposal of hazardous materials.

* Wash your hands.

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