What to do with used fluorescent tubes and CFL lamps
The news is full of reports about CO2 emissions and how we can all reduce our footprint to reduce the escalating levels of pollution in our increasingly industrial society. Lamps — commercial and domestic lamps — have not escaped the environmental scrutiny, and spent fluorescent tubes and lamps are now classed as hazardous waste.
Recycling lamps can make a huge difference to the environment as virtually all of their components can be recycled.
From 1st July 2007, waste tubes and low energy CFLs have been subject to the requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations, and new CFL lamps are marked with the now familiar crossed out wheelie bin sign, indicating they should be disposed of carefully and recycled.
Manufacturers and suppliers of such lamps must now provide the public with information on how to dispose of waste bulbs, and some retailers allow customers to return them to their premises. More commonly, retailers will take used bulbs, or direct the public to take them to local authority civic sites, whose fundings retailers contribute to. Disposed lamps will then be treated and recycled, recovering the majority of the mercury.
Businesses responsible for recycling lamps must ensure that broken and used bulbs are stored safety in a suitable type and size of container before being taken for recycling, in order to prevent harm from broken glass or mercury leakage.
Householders should dispose of lamps at their local waste recycling centre, and take care when dealing with broken CFLs, due to the risk of inhaling mercury and/or being cut on the glass. Where a breakage has occurred, the room should be ventilated, and the debris should be swept up using gloves (carefully wiping the area clean afterwards) but a vacuum cleaner should not be used, as this would create airborne dust, which could then be inhaled. All of the lamp parts should be placed in a plastic bag, sealed and taken to a waste recycling centre. They should not be disposed of in the household bin.
Recycling lamps can make a huge difference to the environment as virtually all of their components can be recycled — the metal ends, the glass tubing, the mercury… they can all be used for other products or recycled into new bulbs.Start of page