Disposing of Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

lightbulbIf every home in the US replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star (like a compact florescent), we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year. Compact fluorescents use at least 2/3 less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last longer. They’re a little more expensive on the front end, but if you spend the extra $2 to install the bulb, you’ll save about $35 on electricity. Since the bulbs are warranted to last 5 years, not only do you save on the electricity bill, but if the bulb fails early you get a free replacement.

CFL bulbs contain an extremely small amount of mercury; about 1/100 the amount in a common household thermometer. The primary source of mercury emissions in the U.S. is coal-fired power plants. An unbroken CFL does not pose a health risk. However, expended CFL’s should be disposed of properly, in the same manor as other household hazardous waste products like paint, batteries and non-digital thermostats. The concern is valid and lies in concentrations of mercury accumulating in our landfills over time.

NOTE: A coal power plant powering an incandescent light bulb instead of a CFL will release more mercury into the air than is actually contained in a CFL itself. Although the CFL mercury issue is a concern, the net result of mercury released into our environment, given the reduced power requirements of a compact fluorescent bulb over its lifetime, remains less. Compact fluorescent bulbs emit no mercury unless they are broken.

** Never incinerate a compact fluorescent light bulb as means of disposal.

If a CFL Bulb Breaks in Your Home

-Do not inhale the vapor.
-Do not use a vacuum for cleanup.
-Sweep the pieces together with a brush or broom — not with your hand.
-Cleanup glass with a wet rag or towel and place the towel, along with the pieces, into a sealed plastic bag.

Proper Disposal

BVSWMA offers a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection twice a year, where you can dispose of CFL bulbs. Call the HHW Hotline at (979) 764-3809 for the next collection date or visit their website.

Other Disposal Options:

Home Depot in College Station has a CFL Collection/Recycling program in place for the general public. Bulbs can be taken to the Returns/Service desk. There is no limit to the number of bulbs nor any required packaging.

IKEA (Frisco store) has CFL Collection/ Recycling program available to the general public. Individuals can take their bulbs (no limit and no required packaging) to either the Returns Desk or the “As is/ Clearance” area.

Lowes in Bryan & College Station has a recycling container for CFL’s, located inside- at the entrance of the store.

Batteries Plus: They accept and recycle the following materials for a very small fee.


• Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
• Fluorescent Tubes
• Circular Fluorescent
• U Bend Fluorescent
• Plastic Coated and Shatter Shield
• Spot/Flood Lamps
• UV and Germicidal Lamps

• Incandescent
• Halogen
• Cold Cathode
• Metal Halide
• High Pressure Sodium
• Mercury Vapor
• Ballasts

Fluorescent Rebate Program

This program is available to College Station Utility electrical customers for the purchase of compact fluorescent lights. CSU will credit electrical accounts $1.00 for every incandescent light replaced, up to four replacements annually. Visit this link for more information. http://www.cstx.gov/index.aspx?page=3559