Fluorescent bulbs - this type of light source is part of our everyday life. There are three main types of fluorescent lamps: cold cathode, hot cathode, and electroluminescent. Fluorescent lights work by ionizing mercury vapor in a glass tube. This causes electrons in the gas to emit photons at UV frequencies, UV light is then converted into standard visible light by using a phosphor coating on the inside of the tube. (Fascinating huh?) Therefore, all fluorescent lamps, tubes and bulbs contain small quantities of mercury. The mercury is the reason why these types of bulbs SHOULD NOT be disposed of through our regular trash.
The EPA mentions recycling prevents the release of mercury into our environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when throw into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.
We collect fluorescent bulbs and tubes during our Residential Household Chemical Waste events.
You can also check with your local hardware stores or search for mail-back services on the internet.
Business and commercial waste options can be found in our "Where do I recycle this?" directory.
Incandescent bulbs (plain ole' non-fancy type bulbs!) work by sending electric current through a resistive material. Typically materials will glow before reaching a melting point. Most materials will glow a dull red color when they reach higher temperatures creating thermal radiation or "glow". The filaments and glass holding the electrical current in a fixed state are not recyclable and can be safety disposed of through your regular trash.