How to Recycle Fluorescent Tubes

Fluorescent tubes are frequently found in office buildings, garages and many kitchens. They’re efficient and pretty universal for use and installation, but they can also be cumbersome to transport for proper recycling and disposal. Tubes contain a small amount of mercury, but generally, proper handling mitigates any real danger.

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Frequent Fluorescent Tubes Recycling Questions

Yes, fluorescent tubes all contain a small amount of mercury. Although it is potentially hazardous, mercury plays an important role in how fluorescent tubes work. Because mercury can be dangerous to human health, it is important to properly dispose of fluorescent tubes.
No. Fluorescent tubes are considered universal waste, so they are not accepted in most curbside programs and you will need to find a take-back program or drop-off location for recycling. Many hardware stores such as Lowes or Home Depot will take unbroken Tubes or CFLs. Jump to our recycling locator to find a location now.
Luckily Fluorescent tubes contain less mercury than CFL’s so don’t panic. First, have people and pets leave the room, shut off central air or heating and air the room out by opening windows and doors. You’ll want to air out the room for a couple of hours just to be safe. Find appropriate cleaning supplies which include sticky tape, stiff paper, damp paper towels and an airtight container to put the broken pieces in. Do Not Vacuum.

Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken, as doing so may spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor. Follow the same detailed instructions you would for cleaning up a broken CFL.

Yes, there are a growing number of companies who have created LED tube lighting that is far more efficient than fluorescent tubes. LED tubes do not contain mercury. These tubes have been designed to fit where fluorescent tubes once went so there is no need to replace any hardware.