How to Recycle Items Containing Mercury

Many household products contain mercury, from CFLs to button batteries to some thermometers. While mercury isn’t recyclable, many of these products are. You will likely have to utilize your local household hazardous waste (HHW) facility or events to properly dispose of and recycle items containing mercury.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent Items Containing Mercury Recycling Questions

What items contain mercury?

Many consumer products may contain mercury, including compact fluorescent lightbulbs, thermometers, thermostats, and mercuric oxide and button cell batteries. Visit for a complete list.

Are there laws against throwing mercury in the trash?

Some states do have laws against throwing mercury-containing products in the trash, so be sure to check your local laws before disposing of these products. Many cities and towns host household hazardous waste collection events for the recycling of these items.

Why is mercury dangerous?

Mercury exists in three chemical forms, the most common of which is methylmercury, which people are exposed to by consuming fish. Methylmercury can impair neurological development in fetuses, infants, and children. Other forms of mercury can cause damage to the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and nervous system. A mercury spill can release toxic vapor into the air, which is a health hazard.

Why is mercury used in products?

Mercury is used in many different products because of its useful properties, which include the ability to conduct electricity, expand in response to pressure and temperature, and form alloys with other metals. Some manufacturers have reduced their use of mercury, and the EPA encourages consumers to select products without mercury when possible.

Will manufacturers of these products take them back after they’ve been used?

Some manufacturers and retailers do offer take-back programs for mercury-containing items. The Northwest Product Stewardship Council offers a list of some options.