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:
- Compact fluorescent
- Mercury vapor
- Metal halide
- High-pressure sodium
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,
the EPA website recycling pages or