Cleanup and Safe Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
EPA encourages Americans to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for residential lighting to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global climate change. Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury. You can prevent potential mercury exposure to you and your environment by:
- storing and handling CFLs responsibly;
- following our tips when cleaning up broken CFLs; and
- recycling or disposing of CFLs properly.
Information for All Consumers
- CFLs and Mercury
- Cleaning Up a Broken CFL
- Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out
- How CFLs and Other Fluorescent Bulbs Work
- Proper maintenance, removal, and disposal of PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts
- CFL purchasing and procurement
- Energy Star Quantity Quotes - buying CFLs in bulk
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Requirements. Under RCRA, CFLs that are hazardous waste are designated as "universal wastes". Businesses and industries that qualify as universal waste handlers must follow specific requirements for storing, transporting and disposing of CFLs. Households are exempt from these regulations.
- Learn how businesses that are universal waste handlers can establish a recycling program for CFLs and other bulbs that contain mercury
- View questions and answers about regulations that affect the management and disposal of these bulbs
- Read a 30-page document that contains information and recommendations for businesses that use fluorescent lamps (February 2009; EPA530-R-09-001; PDF) (30 pp, 234K)
- General information for businesses about recycling CFLs and other bulbs that contain mercury and about universal wastes
Top Questions about CFLs
- What should I do if a CFL breaks?
- Where can I recycle CFLs?
- Why use CFLs if they contain mercury?
- Why are incandescent light bulbs being phased out? I hear CFLs will be required by 2012 -- is that true?
- Is any mercury released when a CFL burns out? I had a lamp burn out and noticed a bad smell -- was that mercury?
- Mercury information for consumers
- Energy Star CFLs | All Energy Star products
- Benefits of using CFLs
- How CFLs work
- Recycling and disposal of household hazardous waste
- Mercury use in lighting -- information from the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)'s June 2010 Appliance Labeling Rule: Packaging for CFLs, LED bulbs and traditional incandescent bulbs will include new labels designed to help consumers select the most efficient bulbs that best fit their lighting needs. Both the packaging and the bulbs themselves will include disclosures if the bulbs contain mercury. When will this start? In April 2011, the FTC extended the effective date of this rule until January 2012.