Recycling Company Launches Nationwide CFL Program

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With over 300 million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) purchased in the U.S. since 2006, it is clear Americans have caught on to the money and energy savings offered by the bulbs. The disposal of these bulbs, on the other hand, remains an issue for most consumers. Most of these bulbs are landfilled at their end of life, where they can release mercury vapor into the environment.

One project aims to answer the consumer demand for CFL recycling with a free community-based nationwide recycling program. The Green Action Project (G.A.P.), sponsored by NLR, Inc., a leading waste recycler of lamps, electronic waste, batteries and mercury devices, offers free CFL recycling to non-profit organizations, schools, community organizations and events.

The ComPak Recycling Center makes it easy to dispose of and recycle CFLs in your community. Greenactionproject.com

The ComPak Recycling Center makes it easy to dispose of and recycle CFLs in your community. - Greenactionproject.com

Organizations that can demonstrate a need for CFL recycling and the willingness to use program in terms of environmental awareness, green action, sustainability efforts or community projects, can apply to receive the ComPak CFL Recycling Center at no cost. ComPak is the nation’s first completely self-contained and self-service recycling center designed to meet the growing needs of CFL recycling.

How It Works

The Com-Pak recycling center is shipped to qualified applicants free of charge. The center is designed to hold up to 180 CFLs in an environmentally safe container and comes with two recycling containers, two liners and FedEx return labels. Once the container is full, the assigned location manager contacts FedEx for pick-up, which will ship the CFLs to NLR for recycling. CFLs are recycled within 24 hours at NLR’s Connecticut facility, whereupon the organization will receive a Certificate of Green Recycling.

Why Recycle CFLs?

CFLs contain approximately 4 milligrams of mercury each. Though 4 milligrams is a relatively small amount, the amount of mercury from the estimated 300 million CFLs sold in the U.S. since 2006 would equate to .15 metric tons of mercury! Put another way, it only takes one teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 100-acre body of water.

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Comments

  1. Author

    Hi Mary,
    You can recycle CFL bulbs at Home Depot locations in your area. To search for cardboard recyclers in your area (or “Paperboard” in the case of the cereal boxes), visit our “Start Recycling” search at the top of the Earth911 page. Type in “cardboard” and your zip code and the nearest locations to you will be displayed. Good luck and thank you for visiting Earth911.
    Thank you,
    Lori Brown

  2. Home Depot will ONLY take COMPACT fluorescents not the tubes (and I hear they limit quantity at times.) We can only hope that in the near future they extend their limited efforts in Product Stewardship to meet the larger demand. IKEA on the other hand will take all fluorescents and does not limit the quantity.

  3. Will Home Depot take mercury bulbs like those found in rear projection TVs? If not do you know how I dispose of this type of bulb? I recently changed my bulb and don’t know how to properly dispose of it. Thanks.

  4. As a nurse, there was a big deal made at removing mercury from all thermometers. They even removed the old wall blood pressure cuffs because they had merc
    ury in them. Now we seem to be starting the mercury problem all over again. Slot of people are going to buy these in order to save money. I think the stores as well as the manufacturers should have disclaimers placed on these as well as on the display area. I have a 5 year old son and I’m terrified that if this world doesn’t clean up, their environment and health will be severely sacrificed.

  5. I live in a small town and I would like to start a recycling program, I am looking for ideas to get this off the ground, we need this in our community!

  6. Why do we continue to manufacture products that are so hazerdous? I think it’s great that we are willing to make the effort to recycle but the chances of CFLs making it to a landfill or just breaking in someones kitchen is too great. Lets all start supporting non hazerdous solutions to our energy problems.

  7. Dear All,

    A very large percentage of the electricity in the U.S. is produced from coal.

    Collectively, coal spews more mercury into the environment than all the CFLs
    produced to date.

    By reducing the amount of electricity required for lighting, less coal is burned,
    and thus. less mercury is released into the environment.

    Regards,

    Wendell

  8. @Jodi – Staples will recycle batteries for you. Just take ’em to the customer service desk – it’s free!

  9. I tried to drop off my CFLs at Lowe’s … to be safe.
    and the clerk at Lowe’s told me, they just throw them in the trash, so there was no need for me to bring it to them.

  10. Lin, that’s crazy. The EPA would be very interested in hearing about that (and the DTSC if you’re in California). I know they’re not always the brightest bulbs in the bunch, but I have a hard time believing that a Lowe’s employee would come right out and make a statement like that.

  11. Sadly, although there are places that accept spent batteries, they are not recyclable at this time. Use rechargeable.

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