Q: Why is it important to recycle CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs?

CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs thrown into the trash are usually sent to a landfill or incinerated. These disposal methods will lead to releases of elemental mercury into the environment through breakage and leakage.  There is also the potential for exposure to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs thrown in a dumpster, trash compactor, or trash can.  Approximately 670 million fluorescent light bulbs are discarded each year in the United States. These discarded bulbs can release approximately 2 to 4 tons of mercury per year into the environment. Once in the environment, mercury can be converted to an organic form that accumulates in living organisms and contaminates the food chain.

To prevent the release of mercury, the fluorescent light bulbs should be taken to a recycler before they break. Recyclers can recover the mercury and other components for reuse.

What happens to CFLS or other fluorescent light bulbs when they are recycled?

Source:  US EPA website