Fluorescent bulbs, lamps, and ballasts
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury vapor. Although the amount of mercury vapor in each lamp is small, care should still be taken in handling and disposing of fluorescent lamps. Please remember that it is illegal to put fluorescent lamps and other mercury-containing lamps in your trash or household recycling cart.
When CFLs and fluorescent lamps have burned out, you can recycle the lamps. Recycling CFLs and fluorescent lamps captures the mercury vapor, which can be reused in new lamps. Due to advanced recycling procedures, 99% of an old fluorescent lamp can be recycled into a new fluorescent lamp.
Fluorescent lamps come in many shapes and sizes including:
- 4 foot, 6 foot & 8 foot linears
- CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps)
- Corkscrew-type bulbs & U-tubes
- Black lights
- High intensity discharge bulbs (HID)
- Metal halide
- High Pressure Sodium
- Ultraviolet bulbs
- Neon bulbs
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were discontinued for use in fluorescent ballasts manufactured after 1979. Typically, ballasts which do not contain PCBs will be labeled with a sticker. Ballasts without labels must be disposed as hazardous waste. While non-PCB ballasts can be disposed in the garbage, it is environmentally preferable to recycle them as scrap metal; see listing below. Do not put ballasts in the curbside recycling cart.
What to do with broken fluorescent lamps?
- Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
- Turn off central heat/air conditioning.
- Collect the pieces using a stiff piece of paper, such as an index card.
- Pat the area with the sticky side of packing tape to remove glass shards.
- Put all material into a sealed container.
- Broken bulbs are accepted with the Agency’s Hazardous Waste programs
For additional recommendations when a CFL or other mercury-containing bulb breaks, visit the US EPA’s Mercury in Your Environment website.
Disposal for PCB-ballasts with the Agency’s Hazardous Waste programs
1. Drop-off CFLs and other kinds of fluorescent lamps at participating retailers: for residents
See list below
2. Dispose of spent fluorescent bulbs through the Agency's Hazardous Waste programs: for residents and businesses
Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events
Household Hazardous Waste Rover Pickup Service
Household Hazardous Waste Facility
3. Mail-back and pick up recycling options: for businesses
Use the “What would you like to recycle?” search function at the top of this web page. Choose the topic “Fluorescent lamps and ballasts (business only)”
Hours listed on this page may change without notice.