The Problem with CFLs and Proper Disposal
With incandescent light bulbs going the way of the dodo, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are quickly becoming the de facto choice for cheap, efficient lighting. They’re practically everywhere, come in a wide range of colours and colour temperatures, and most importantly, use less electricity than Edison’s classic bulb.
But their all their supposed eco-friendliness, CFLs present a challenge when it comes to proper disposal. All your efforts of going green and helping the environment will have gone to waste if you failed to recycle these light bulbs in the right manner.
CFLs contain small traces of mercury, which, although too small to pose significant harm to adults, can be dangerous to small children and pets. Moreover, if you have several broken CFLs dumped in landfills, their combined traces of mercury can leak into the ground, contaminating the soil and potentially groundwater beneath it.
Below are some steps you can take to get rid of CFLs the right way.
Recycle the Right Way Recycling is the best way to get rid of broken or burnt out CFL light bulbs. First, check if your province, city, or state has an organisation or facility specialising in the proper disposal of CFL light bulbs. The first place you can start is online; check for certified CFL recyclers or companies that recycle discarded electronics and devices with toxic chemicals.
Store in a Bag Prior to Disposal If a recycling centre near you is nowhere to be found, you can dispose of the broken light bulb by placing it in an airtight plastic bag. If you can, segregate it with similar non-biodegradable waste. DO NOT burn a broken CFL bulb, or any other object that contains mercury for that matter.
Don’t Vacuum, Sweep Instead If you have a broken CFL bulb at home, relax. Any mercury vapours in the air pose no harm to humans, but they can still be harmful to infants and pets. First, pop opens the windows to increase ventilation, then pick up the shards with protective gloves on. Use tape to collect small debris, which together with the larger pieces, should be placed inside an airtight plastic bag before disposal.
For comments and questions on proper CFL disposal, contact the LiquidLEDs support team!