Recycling and Disposal of CFLs and Other Bulbs that Contain Mercury
EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local options for recycling CFLs, fluorescent bulbs and other bulbs that contain mercury, and all other household hazardous wastes, rather than disposing of them in regular household trash.
Benefits of Recycling CFLs
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. Learn more about CFLs and mercury.
- Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.
- Your area may prohibit disposal and/or require recycling. Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. Visit search.Earth911.com to contact your local waste collection agency, which can tell you if such a requirement exists in your state or locality. We are aware that the following states prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills. The following links exit the site:
Where to Recycle CFLs
The short answer is: Visit search.Earth911.com to find out.
Contact your local waste collection agency
- 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
Many hardware supply stores and other retailers offer in-store recycling.
Visit search.Earth911.com to find stores in your area or check the list below.
Make sure you check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may participate, and some stores may recycle only certain types of bulbs (for example, a store may recycle CFLs but not 4-foot fluorescent tubes).
- Aubuchon Hardware store locations
- Bartell Drugs store locator
- Home Depot store locator
- Ikea store locator
- Lowe's store locator
- True Value store locator
- Retail and other locations in certain counties and states:
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 it for your postal carrier. Websites that provide more information about mail-back services.
- EPA does not endorse, recommend, certify, authorize or approve of these services.
- There may be other similar services of which we are not aware.
- We only provide these links as a convenience to our web visitors.
- BakPak Mail-Back Recycling (NLR, Inc.)
- EasyPak from Lamprecycling.com (AirCycle)
- Heritage Lifecycle Mailback Services
- RecyclePak from Veolia Environmental Services
- Simple Cycle (Lamp Environment Industries, Inc.)
- Think Green From Home (Waste Management Inc.)
- WasteSecure (Universal Recycling Technologies, LLC)
If your state or local environmental regulatory agency permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the regular household trash, seal the bulb in a plastic bag and put it into the outside trash for the next normal trash collection.
Other Types of Light Bulbs that Contain Mercury
Follow the recommendations on this page if you need to dispose of another type of mercury-containing light bulb, such as:
- Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
- Bug zappers
- Tanning bulbs
- Black lights
- Germicidal bulbs
- Fluorescent induction bulbs
- High output bulbs, and
- Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.
- Metal halide
- Ceramic metal halide
- High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.
Mercury short-arc bulbs; and Neon bulbs.
Storing CFLs and Other Fluorescents
Store fluorescent light bulbs in containers that prevent them from breaking, such as in their original boxes, boxes from replacement bulbs, or containers supplied by fluorescent light bulb recyclers. Recyclers generally require that the light bulbs arrive unbroken.
- CFL cleanup and recycling: Don't Be Left in the Dark: Safely Clean Up and Recycle CFLs (pdf) (869.77 KB) | en español
- Want to recycle other wastes like paint, batteries and pesticides?: Contact search.Earth911.com to find a recycling center
- Learn how to clean up and dispose of broken CFLs
- Main CFLs page
- Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers
- LampRecycle.org , developed by the Lamp Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association