Recycling fluorescent light bulbs & tubes
In Vermont, it is illegal to dispose of mercury-containing light bulbs in the trash. This includes full-size and compact fluorescent light bulbs, standard, u-shaped and circular tubes, UV radiation tubes, and high-intensity discharge bulbs such as mercury-vapor, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps (the large screw-in type).
Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal. When lamps are improperly disposed of, mercury can be released into the environment in the form of an invisible vapor or a bead. While the amount of mercury in these lamps is not believed to be enough to cause illness, it is best to avoid any exposure to mercury and prevent its release into the environment where it can damage our lakes and streams and poison fish and wildlife. In a typical compact-fluorescent bulb, there is only enough mercury to fill the letter “o” in the word “GOD” on a dime.
If a bulb breaks, follow these clean-up tips for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb. Bring the bulb and the remaining debris (contained in a sealed plastic bag) to one of the CSWD facilities listed below under DISPOSAL (Chittenden County businesses and residents only). Customers are limited to 5 broken bulbs per day at DOCs. Any more than that should be brought directly to the Environmental Depot.
If you live outside of Chittenden County, contact your solid waste department or municipality, or visit the State of Vermont’s Mercury Education and Reduction Campaign website or call: 1-800-974-9559 or 802-241-3888.
DISPOSAL OF INTACT TUBES AND BULBS
Old mercury-containing light bulbs are accepted from Chittenden County businesses and residents only at all CSWD Drop-Off Centers (DOCs), the Environmental Depot, and the CSWD Rover when it comes to your town.
Bulbs collected at DOCs are now part of a new state-wide manufacturer funded recycling program. In order to participate in this program, CSWD has instituted some changes to our Drop-Off Center bulb collection.
Effective July 1, 2012
DOCs will only accept bulbs that qualify for this program, defined as follows:
- Screw-in style compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in any quantity
- 10 or fewer, per day, of other mercury-containing lamps that are used for general purpose lighting. This includes straight, circular and U-shaped tubes, HID (high intensity discharge) bulbs, and pin-base CFLs.
If you have more than 10 of the bulb types listed, or any other mercury-containing lamp that is not used for general purpose lighting (e.g., tanning bulbs, UV radiation tubes used for water treatment, neon bulbs, projector or other audio visual bulbs) you must bring them to CSWD’s Environmental Depot. Please call ahead (802-865-4663) to schedule an appointment.
Fees: There is no charge for the first 100 bulbs per year from residents or businesses of Chittenden County. Customers will be charged the rates listed on the Conditionally Exempt Generators Disposal Fees page for the amount of bulbs that exceeds 100.
Handling: Please place bulbs in their original box (if possible) or otherwise secure them to prevent breakage during storage and transport. The DOCs and the Depot will furnish 4′ and 8′ boxes to customers with large quantities of bulbs upon request. Please do not tape bulbs together.
Vermont residents may bring up to six fluorescent and other mercury-containing bulbs per visit to participating True Value Hardware stores. In addition, Efficiency Vermont sponsors over 100 retail collection sites throughout the state. Click here to see a list with all the locations.
For additional questions please call the CSWD hotline at 872-8111.