Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain small amounts of mercury, so it is important that they are disposed of in the proper manner. The growing awareness of this problem is leading to a trend in offering recycling services.

MaxLite is the latest manufacturer to offer such a recycling service, and it is specifically designed to recycle CFLs. Buying the containers from the manufacturer includes the price of pickup, shipping and all recycling fees. The manufacturer then sends verification documents to the customer after the lamps have been recycled.

However, not all bulbs make it to the recycling facility. Sometimes they may break in your possession. In such a case, exposure can cause memory loss and learning disabilities, which is why proper disposal of the bulbs is so important. The Environmental Protection Agency has advised the following in the event of a fluorescent bulb breaking:

  • Ventilate and leave the room for 15 minutes.

  • Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard.

  • Use disposable rubber gloves when cleaning the area.

  • Place all items used in a double-sealed plastic bag.

Richard Dimont, program manager for Hazardous Waste and Waste Management in Montgomery County, Md., advises using a soapy water solution using dandruff shampoo. Dimont says dandruff shampoos contain zinc and sulfur, which mercury likes to bond to.

Of course, other companies and retailers have launched their own recycling programs, including TCP, ComEd, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Swedish furniture retailer IKEA. Consult a local fluorescent lighting retailer near you, your chosen lighting manufacturer or your waste management company for fluorescent lamp recycling options.