How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulbs
When you recycle fluorescent bulbs you prevent mercury from being released into the environment, promote reuse of the bulb materials, and stay in compliance with regulations to recycle mercury-containing bulbs.
EZ on the Earth and its parent company Lighting Resources provide fluorescent light recycling options for any size recycling need. Recycle small quantities with EZ on the Earth’s pre-paid, mail back recycle kits. Or contact Lighting Resources to arrange for pick up and recycling of pallet loads to truck loads of fluorescent light bulbs from CFLs to fluorescent tubes and everything in between.
What is Fluorescent Light Recycling?
(And why should you care about it?)
Fluorescent light recycling is the recovery of materials from burned out or “spent” fluorescent light bulbs. Over 600 million fluorescent bulbs are discarded annually, and each contains from 3 to 46 mg of mercury depending on the size and age of the light bulb. By recycling rather than disposing of fluorescent bulbs in the trash, you can help …
- Reduce the amount of waste thrown in landfills and sent to incinerators where nothing can be reused and potentially hazardous substances can be released into the environment.
- Conserve natural resources and prevent pollution by saving energy and reducing the amount of new materials that need to be collected.
- Help protect the environment for future generations.
- Create a positive public image for your company or organization by letting your customers know that you recycle.
- Promote the creation of good-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries!
If properly recovered and processed, most materials can be separated, cleaned, and reused in the manufacture of new products. Glass in particular does not degrade in the recycling process and be recycled over and over again. Metal end caps from fluorescent tubes can be recycled into new metal products. Perhaps most important, the toxic mercury contained in the phosphor powder can be reclaimed. Not only is mercury a valuable product for reclamation, proper recycling prevents its release into the environment where it can be hazardous to human health. Because of this, proper recycling of mercury-containing light bulbs and other devices is required by most states for commercial facilities. Click here for more information and helpful links about Recycling Regulatory Compliance.
Sources: Wikipedia.org and EPA.gov
How We Recycle Fluorescent Tubes and Fluorescent Bulbs
EZ on the Earth’s parent company Lighting Resources began recycling fluorescent tubes in 1989. From the beginning with its first facility in Ontario, California, the company had been committed to environmental responsibility in how it handles and processes fluorescent bulbs and other universal wastes. How do we do it?
- By operating facilities across the country that use state-of-the-art recycling equipment, including award-winning Balcan lamp recycling systems.
- By recycling as much of the glass, metal, and other materials as possible and responsibly disposing of any non-recyclable materials.
- And by capturing and triple distilling the mercury from fluorescent bulbs and other mercury-containing wastes and returning it to virgin specifications so that it can be used a brand-new product.
Where to Recycle Fluorescent Bulbs?
Lighting Resources Fluorescent Light Recycling Facilities
Lighting Resources operates in seven locations, with four of those — Florida, Indiana, Texas, and as of November 2015, Arizona — operating Balcan Lamp Recycling Systems and plans to add the equipment to its California operation as well. With facilities across the country and a nationwide, fully permitted truck fleet, the company provides reliable, responsible recycling pick up and processing for customers throughout the U.S.
Combine this with the EZ on the Earth Recycle Kits for smaller quantity recycling, and virtually all fluorescent light recycling need across the country can be handled properly.
Once fluorescent light bulbs arrive at a Lighting Resources facility, they are logged and tracked so that a Certificate of Recycling can be produced allowing customers who recycle fluorescent tubes and other wastes to maintain accurate records of materials they have recycled.
Fluorescent Light Recycling Equipment
The Balcan Lamp Recycling System used by Lighting Resources is among the most effective and efficient in the world, providing cleaner by-products that allow for more reuse of materials. Unlike many other recycling machines, the Balcan system is designed to accept both whole and pre-crushed lamps of all shapes, types, and sizes and recycles all elements of the light bulbs safely. (Note: Unless specialized equipment and materials and extremely careful handling are used, it is safer to ship your fluorescent tubes and other fluorescent light bulbs WHOLE rather than pre-crushed. Crushing fluorescent bulbs releases the mercury vapor creating a hazardous environment and potentially serious safety violations.)
The recycling equipment crushes the bulbs and then feeds the debris into an agitator unit that helps release the phosphorus powder (mercury) that sticks to the glass. While this is occurring, the air inside the unit is continuously pulled off through a filter unit that collects the mercury-containing powder. The air continues through another larger, finer filter that removes any remaining traces of mercury vapor as well as any other impurities. Only then is the air vented to the atmosphere as clean air. The cleaned bulb debris is continually discharged from the agitator unit and separated into glass and metal by passing over a powerful magnet. Both metal and glass debris are now available for reuse.
So What Happens to the Mercury from Fluorescent Light Bulbs?
This is where the process gets really interesting! Very few facilities that recycle fluorescent tubes are able to not only capture but distill the phosphorus powder back into useful mercury. Lighting Resources / EZ on the Earth can! Our Greenwood, Indiana recycling facility has two mercury retort ovens that literally bake the mercury out of the powder. Once the mercury is removed, it is put through our triple distillation equipment that is capable of returning the mercury to virgin specifications making it more valuable because it is once again brand-new product.
Ready to Recycle Your Fluorescent Tubes and other Fluorescent Light Bulbs?
If you have a few bulbs or a few boxes, EZ on the Earth mail-back recycling kits can make it easy for you. Call EZ on the Earth at (855) EARTH-55 or click below to Purchase EZ Recycle Kits. (EZ on the Earth also has recycling kits for batteries, non-PCB lighting ballasts, electronic and computer waste, mercury-containing devices (like thermostats, switches, and thermometers), and smoke detectors. We also offer a comprehensive disposal service for tritium self-powered exit signs (also called nuclear exit signs).
If you need to recycle larger quantities of fluorescent tubes, fluorescent light bulbs, or other materials, contact Lighting Resources.
Headquarters: (805) 624-3050
or contact the location nearest to you:
- Eastern Time Zone: (317) 888-3889 or (352) 509-3001
- Central Time Zone: (817) 921-1440
- Mountain Time Zone: (602) 276-4278
- Pacific Time: (909) 923-7252
Or click below to email Lighting Resources Customer Service any time of day or night.