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The Business Lighting Experts

Why Recycle Lamps and Ballasts?
Fluorescent lamps and ballasts need special treatment.
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Recycling Center

Why Recycle Lamps and Ballasts?

Just like CFL light bulbs, universal waste regulations require proper disposal of lamps and ballasts through either recycling or hazardous waste landfills. This is important because lamps and certain ballasts contain hazardous materials, such as mercury, which can contaminate the environment and is harmful to human health. Each fluorescent lamp contains around four milligrams of mercury, which means one thousand fluorescent lamps contain four grams of mercury. And as we know from Why Recycle Light Bulbs?, it only takes one ounce (28.3 grams) of mercury to contaminate a lake for centuries. That’s why it is imperative that all fluorescent lamps be properly recycled.

Besides eliminating hazardous environmental concerns, certain components of recycled lamps can be separated, cleaned and reused.

Lamps containing mercury include the following:

  • Fluorescent
  • Compact fluorescent
  • Mercury vapor
  • Metal halide
  • High-pressure sodium
  • Neon
  • Arc

Ballasts containing the hazardous materials polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) also pose health and environmental concerns. Therefore, these liquid-containing “wet ballasts” are considered regulated waste and should be recycled.

Current government regulations make improper disposal practices a liability. Many facilities that simply throw away ballasts containing PCBs and DEHP are fined and even charged with landfill cleanup. Recycling guarantees that these toxic materials are removed, ensuring a healthier environment and safer workplace for everyone.

In 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a ban on manufacturing ballasts using polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which most ballasts manufactured before 1978 contained, due to it being hazardous to both human health and the environment. Additionally, ballasts that are labeled non-PCB or contains no PCB often still have the presence of (DEHP), a clear, odorless liquid that replaced PCBs in ballasts manufactured after 1978.

Not only does improper disposal of fluorescent lamps and ballast minimize liability, failure to do so could result in a violation and fine. Recycling is the preferred option for the long-term preservation of the environment.

Bulbs.com can help reduce the risk of facility contamination by establishing a standard operating procedure from facility to facility with our convenient recycling services. Requiring minimal storage space, the prepaid recycling boxes from Bulbs.com are helpful and easy to use. Simply fill up a box and ship when it’s full. Find out more about the Bulbs.com Recycling Program.

For a complete listing of where you can recycle ballasts in your area, visit the EPA website recycling pages or lamprecycle.org.