The Dangers of not recycling fluorescent lamps

fluorescent lamp recyclingIf you use fluorescent light bulbs, there will come a time for you to retire them. Understand the importance of fluorescent lamp recycling will help you to make sound, sustainable decisions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and basically anywhere you set your ecological footprint.

When it comes to lighting up your home and office, fluorescent lamps are the recommended choice for its superior efficiency. While a typical incandescent bulb lasts between 750 to 1,000 hours before burning out, a fluorescent bulb can easily last 10 to 15 times longer and only consume one-quarter to one-third of the energy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fluorescent lamps are four to six times more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. They reduce "the demand for electricity, which in turn reduces mercury and green house gas (GHG) emissions from utility boilers, particularly coal-fired boilers."

The Importance of Fluorescent Lamp Recycling

Once your fluorescent bulb reached the end of its life cycle, it might be tempting for you to discard it in your waste basket or recycling bin. However, fluorescent tubes contain a small amount of mercury that warrant proper handling to mitigate any real danger to both you and the environment. As OSHA points out, improperly recycling your fluorescent light bulbs may cause harmful mercury exposure. The hazardous metal mercury can harm unborn children, impair memory, cause skin irritation, and the list goes on.

Environmental Impacts

In addition to its adverse effects to human health, improper fluorescent light bulb recycling can threaten the environment as well. If bulbs are broken, burned, or landfilled, metals and other toxic substances can be released into the environment. Mercury in the air may settle into soil and water bodies, and through microbial activity, be transferred to methylmercury. This harmful element not only contaminates water supplies but also affects fish and those that eat them.

Financial Impact: EPA Fines

The health and environmental hazards caused by improper fluorescent bulb disposal has incurred government actions. According to SFGate, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act has made it illegal for people to simply discard fluorescent lamps in the trash. In fact, businesses that fail to take legal precautions in the disposal process can face up to $25,000 per day per violation. While each state has its own way of handling fluorescent lamp recycling, most have implement the federal Universal Waste Rule (UWR), which defines the the vast majority of mercury-containing lamps as a hazardous waste. As the EPA explains, "If you do not test your mercury-containing lamps and prove them non-hazardous, you must assume they are hazardous waste and handle them accordingly."

Proper Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Process

Because mercury can be dangerous to human health, it is important to properly dispose of fluorescent tubes. When collecting your used fluorescent light bulbs, the federal Universal Waste Rule (UWR) recommends you to store and package them in ways that will minimize lamp breakage. Do your research to find the policies governing recycling used fluorescent lamp and find a drop-off location that accepts them.

For businesses that locate in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, fluorescent lamp recycling is made easy by Corporate Lamp & Electronic Recycling, LLC. (CLER). We offer a low cost, sustainable recycling and compliance program for large and small companies. Contact us at (610) 444-0688 and let's make smart decisions for Mother Earth.