The state of Maine is considering a bill that would provide compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) recycling programs paid for by the bulb manufacturers, an effort to provide disposal options for these mercury containing bulbs.
Environmentalists have embraced CFLs for their energy-efficiency and long life compared to incandescent bulbs, but the typical CFL can contain up to 5 milligrams of mercury. That is considerably less than a mercury thermostat or thermometer, but it’s still enough to cause health problems and environmental concerns if they are disposed in a landfill.
If passed, Maine’s bill would create specific guidelines for CFL recycling:
- Manufacturers would be required to implement a recycling program for any CFLs purchased in Maine
- The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would be allowed to develop standards for mercury content in CFLs
- A DEP-created report on the success of the programs would be provided by January 2010
Nationwide programs currently exist for CFL recycling. They are collected at all Home Depot stores and IKEA locations. CFLs are also included in many household hazardous waste programs because of the mercury content.
In 2008, fluorescent bulbs were the fourth most popular search term in Earth911′s recycling search engine.