Cleanup and Disposal of CFLs: New EPA Guidelines

Cleanup and Disposal of CFLs: New EPA Guidelines

Michelle Chin
Jan 12, 2011

With upcoming changes in laws regarding the sale of incandescent bulbs in both the US and Canada, the safe cleanup and disposal of compact florescent bulbs (CFLs) is even more important. As we know already, CFLs contain mercury, which means that if you have a broken bulb, simply sweeping it up and tossing it into the trash isn't considered safe disposal.

Here are official cleanup and disposal guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency website:

Cleaning Up a Broken CFL

1. Before cleanup
• Have people and pets leave the room.
• Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
• Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
• Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.

2. During cleanup
• Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
• Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

3. After cleanup
• Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
• For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC system shut off.

Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out

Contact your local waste collection agency by visiting . Note that waste collection agencies:

• provide services that are usually free, though some may charge a small fee.

• sometimes collect household hazardous wastes only once or twice a year, so residents will have to hold on to their light bulbs until the collection takes place. Other collection agencies provide collection services throughout the year.

• may also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries.

• usually accept waste only from residents, although some collection programs include small businesses as well.

Visit your local retailers. Ace Hardware, Home Depot, IKEA, Lowe's, Orchard Supply and other retailers offer in-store recycling. Check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may be equipped to recycle. EPA is working with retailers to expand recycling and disposal options.

Find out about mail-back services. Some bulb manufacturers and other organizations sell pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers. The cost of each kit includes shipping charges to the recycling center. You fill up a kit with old bulbs, seal it, and bring it to the post office or leave for your postal carrier. Websites that provide more information about mail-back services.

Heritage Lifecycle Mailback Services (AirCycle)

Osram Sylvania

Think Green From Home (Waste Management Inc.)

Veolia Environmental Services

Related Posts:
Are There Any Warm or Daylight CFLs?
Roundup: Best CFLs
New Green ESL Bulbs As Efficient As CFLs and LEDs


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