What Should I Do with My Old Fluorescent Bulbs?
There are many benefits to using compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. One major advantage is they use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lamps. This makes them appealing to businesses and facilities such as schools, hospitals and government buildings. The fact that CFLs can last as much as ten times longer than incandescent bulbs also makes them an attractive option.
This is not to say CFLs don’t have a negative side. They do contain mercury in small amounts and this means they are classified as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It can be assumed that nearly all CLFs will break at some point in their disposal. When CLFs break down the mercury is released into the atmosphere where it can build up eventually being released in precipitation, such as rain or snow. Once in lakes and river, this mercury can accumulate in the tissue of fish and then transferred to other animals and humans.
Due to the trace amounts of highly toxic mercury found in CFLs there are special requirements for their disposal. The Environmental Protection Agency allows for CFLs to be treated as non-hazardous if they are recycled properly. If you use fluorescent light bulbs in your home, you are exempt from the hazardous waste rules, but are still encouraged to properly recycle tubes.
The requirements for the disposal of CFLs in New Jersey are the same as they are on the Federal level. Low-mercury lamps can be disposed of in a dumpster. Higher mercury lamps, or those that are “green marked” require proper storage and transport to a disposal facility. A commercial business generating more than 220 pounds of hazardous waste in a calendar year must also follow the proper protocols for disposal. For those entities using less than that amount, it is recommended you check with your local or county government to find the closest drop off site for household hazardous waste.
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