How to Dispose of New Light Bulbs

Whether it’s general household waste or commercial rubbish collections rubbish removal Northern Beaches Sydney can provide a solution to your needs at an affordable price. Recent innovation in light bulbs has created Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps that offer impressive advantages to consumers. While this new technology allows significant energy and cost savings, they also present serious challenges. Lurking within each new bulbs exists a ball pen tip size amount of mercury, a known neurotoxin and hazardous waste product. If these bulbs are thrown in the trash, the mercury may make its way into the ground and water and pose serious health risks for humans, as well as long term environmental concerns. However, the amount of energy savings alone is significant enough for consumers to consider them as viable alternatives. Learning how to dispose of new light bulbs is the big challenge.

Advantages to Energy Saving Lights

It’s easy to see the advantages to using the new light bulbs. Each old bulb, incandescents, have a use life equal to about 800-1,000 hours. CFL’s, on the other hand, last an average of 10,000 hours, which translates into ten times more bulb life. In addition, CFL’s use only 25% of the energy that an incandescent bulb requires.

Though the new energy savings light bulbs cost more up front, real consumer savings are realized over the life of the bulb. For example, a CFL bulb offers a $30 savings over its lifetime, and pays for itself within six months. It’s a win-win situation for consumers.

Disadvantages to Energy Saving Lights

CFL’s do have some drawbacks, but most of these are insignificant. One problem, for example, is that CFL’s tend to burn less brightly toward the end of their lives. In other words, the light emitted is a bit dimmer just before it burns out.

The most significant disadvantage, of course, is the fact that the mercury used in the product needs to be carefully disposed of and recycled. While the tiny amount of mercury within each bulb is minuscule, that one small dot, according to Stanford University researchers, can contaminate 1,000 gallons of water. Mercury can harm anyone but is most toxic to children, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has dedicated years to containing mercury’s misuse. While mercury is proving to be a plus for energy savings, its environmental impact can’t be ignored.

Recycling Centers for CFL and HID Light Bulbs

The rapid use of CFL’s and HID’s has outpaced the capacity of current recycling centers. Approximately 300 million energy saving bulbs were sold in 2008. At the same time, only a handful of states have free utility operated collection programs. The states offering this service include California, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Many other states offer recycling of energy saving bulbs through local cities or counties. Consumers need to contact their local waste disposal agencies to see if any recycling is available for these materials.

Some home retail stores have stepped forward to serve as recycling sites for new technology light bulbs. Among these are IKEA, Home Depot, Orchard Supply Hardware, True Value Hardware, Ace Hardware, and Menards.

Other retail stores, such as Wal-Mart, sometimes offer one day recycling events.

Steps to the Proper Disposal of New Light Bulbs

Before a consumer transports a new light bulb to a recognized recycling site, some prudent steps must be taken, especially if a CFL or DIH bulb has broken:

If a CFL is not broken but needs to be replaced, follow these steps:

Step 1: Carefully remove the bulb from the fixture, then store it inside an airtight container until it can be recycled. It’s often best to replace it inside the cardboard container it came in for extra protection before sealing it away. Though air tight plastic bags can be used to store them, it’s better to use a plastic or metal container.

Step 2: Mark the container so that it is not accidentally damaged or thrown in the trash.

Step 3: Take to a recycling center.

If the CFL light bulb has broken, take the following precautions:

Step 1: Remove children and pets from the area.

Step 2: Turn off heat or air conditioning and open windows; ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes.

Step 3: Gather the following materials before you attempt clean up: gloves, cardboard or stiff paper, plastic bags, duct or masking tape, and wet paper towels.

Step 4: After putting on gloves, pick up and place the larger pieces of glass into a resealable plastic bag.

Step 5: Using cardboard or stiff paper, scoop up the rest of the pieces. Discard into plastic bag bag.

Step 6: Use the sticky duct or masking tape to pickup any leftover residue. Discard into plastic bag.

Step 7: Wipe down the affected area with a wet paper towel or hand wipes. Discard into plastic bag.

Step 8: Vacuum the area, then discard the disposable vacuum bag into a plastic bag and seal. If using a canister style vacuum, discard vacuum sweepings into a plastic bag. Then, using wet paper towels, wipe down the canister. Discard the used paper towels in a resealable plastic bag.

Step 9: If shoes have come into contact with the breakage, clean them thoroughly before wearing again.

Step 10: If clothing has come into direct contact with the breakage, throw them away. Washing them may disperse the mercury throughout your washer.

Step 11: Air out the room the next few times after you vacuum the affected area.

Step 12: Make a plan to carefully recycle the above materials.

As the technological advances surrounding energy efficient light bulbs continue to offer improvement, it’s easy to see how they will replace the old fashioned incandescent bulb. Already the newer generation of CFL’s, for example, are being produced with even less mercury per bulb. In a time when concern for energy savings is a priority, these innovations are revolutionizing the way people adopt the new technology. Consumers are learning that to save the environment and financial cost, proper disposal of new light bulbs is just one more positive step toward a healthier and cleaner world.

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