Why is recycling fluorescent bulbs important?
  • Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment.
  • CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.
  • Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.
  • Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.

CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs that are thrown into the trash are usually sent to the landfill. This disposal method leads to the release of mercury into the environment. There is also the potential for personal exposure to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs thrown in a dumpster, trash compactor, or trash can. Mercury in bulbs is typically present as either elemental mercury liquid, vapor, or both, since the liquid evaporates at ambient temperature. Approximately 670 million fluorescent light bulbs are discarded each year in the United States. These discarded bulbs have the potential to release up to 4 tons of mercury per year into the environment. Once in the environment, mercury can be converted to an organic form that accumulates in living organisms and contaminates the food chain. To prevent the release of mercury, the fluorescent light bulbs should be taken to a recycler before they break. Recyclers can recover the mercury and other components for reuse. When broken indoors, bulbs may emit sufficient mercury vapor to present health concerns, and the U..S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends evacuating and airing out a room for at least 15 minutes after breaking a fluorescent light bulb. To find out more information please visit www.epa.gov.

Metro Lighting St. Louis, in conjunction with Ameren Missouri, offers free CFL recycling. Customers can bring their unbroken CFL bulbs into any Metro Lighting location. Metro Lighting also offers low cost and not-for-profit fluorescent lamp recycling:
  • Free fluorescent recycling requires the purchase of an equal amount of replacement bulbs at retail price.
  • Not-for-profit fluorescent recycling is not free, but customers who do not purchase replacement bulbs are only charged the true cost of recycling the bulb.

Please email Nick Frisella (nickfrisella@metroelectricsupply.com) for additional information and pricing.