Light Bulb Waste - Reduce and Recycle

A list of resources that can help reduce and recycle light bulb waste.

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Use Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

Reduce Waste, Save Time, Save Money

ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs (aka "curly light bulbs) last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.  An average U.S. home uses 15-30 light bulbs throughout the house.  Replacing your household light bulbs with CFLs reduces waste because you replace fewer bulbs, saves you time because you spend less time changing them, and saves you money because you buy fewer light bulbs.

Save Energy and Money

Lighting accounts for about 20% of the average home's electric bill.  ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs to produce the same amount of light.

Replacing a 75-watt incandescent bulb with a 20-watt CFL will reduce electricity consumption by roughly 550 kilowatt-hours over the life of that bulb.  This amounts to nearly 500 pounds of coal that didn't need to be burned to power the CFL.

Prevent Greenhouse Gas Emissions that Contribute to Global Climate Change

If every home in the U.S. replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of about 1,000,000 cars.

Reduce Mercury Emissions

A coal-fired power plant will emit 10 milligrams of mercury to power an incandescent light bulb compared to only 2.4 milligrams of mercury to power a CFL for the same amount of time.  Even though CFLs contain up to 5 milligrams of mercury, using a CFL instead of an incandescent bulb reduces overall mercury emissions by at least 2.6 milligrams per bulb.  If a CFL is recycled, the mercury is recovered, reducing emissions even further.

Handle With Care

  • If a bulb breaks, carefully clean up the pieces to prevent exposure to mercury vapor:
  • Do no use a vacuum for cleanup.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes.
  • Sweep pieces together with a brush or broom.
  • Clean up glass with a wet rag or towel.
  • Place broken pieces and rag or towel in a zip-top plastic bag.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.

Why Recycle CFLs?

CFLs contain very small quantities (up to 5 milligrams) of mercury, an element noted as Hg on the periodic table.  The mercury is in a vapor form and is sealed within the glass tubing.  No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use.  However, after the bulb has expired, it is considered hazardous waste and should be properly recycled to prevent the mercury from being released into the environment.  While recovering the mercury vapor, CFL processors also recycle the glass, metals, and phosphors.

In Missouri, less than 20% of all fluorescent lamps sold are recovered (MDNR).

Across the U.S., only about 24% of spent mercury-containing lamps are recycled (USEPA).

Where to Recycle Light Bulbs?

missouriAmerenUE
Web: www.UEfficiency.com
Note: Ameren UE has partnered with 90+ businesses throughout Missouri to collect CFLs from residents.

missouriBatteries Plus
Web: www.batteriesplus.com/t-light-bulb-recycling.aspx
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs, fluorescent tubes, circular fluorescent, U bend fluorescent, spot/flood lamps, UV and germicidal lamps, incandescents, halogen lamps, cold cathode, metal halide, high pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and ballasts.
  • Fees apply for some items. Contact the store nearest you for details.

archEdele & Mertz Ace Hardware
Phone: 314.421.2131
Mail: 1822 South Broadway, St. Louis, Missouri 63104
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • They are a participant in AmerenUE's CFL recycling program. Residents can drop off their used CFLs for recycling free of charge. Broken bulbs will be accepted if they are contained in a zip-top plastic bag.
archHanneke Hardware
Web: www.hanneke.com
Phone: 314.772.5120
Mail: 5390 Southwest Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63139
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • They are a participant in AmerenUE's CFL recycling program. Residents can drop off their used CFLs for recycling free of charge. Broken bulbs will be accepted if they are contained in a zip-top plastic bag.
archHome Depot
Phone: 314.865.0700
Mail: 3202 South Kingshighway Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63139
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • Individuals can bring in any expired, unbroken CFLs, and give them to a store associate behind the returns desk free of charge. This is a national program.
archHuman Development Corporation of Metropolitan St. Louis
Web: www.hdcstl.org
Location: 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63106
Phone: 314.621.1994
Location: 929 North Spring Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63108
Phone: 314.613.2200
Location: 935 North Vandeventer Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63108
Phone: 314.613.2154
Location: 6827 South Broadway, St. Louis, Missouri 63111
Phone:314.631.0019
Location: 4548 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63113
Phone: 314.535.7484
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • They are a participant in AmerenUE's CFL recycling program. Residents can drop off their used CFLs for recycling free of charge. Broken bulbs will be accepted if they are contained in a zip-top plastic bag.
missouriLens Masters
Web: www.thelensmasters.com/4901.html
Fax: 314.427.2226   Phone: 314.427.1660
Mail: 11309 Midland Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63114
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs, incandescent bulbs, ballasts, U-tubes, signage lamps.
  • Residents can drop off various shapes and sizes of light bulbs for a nominal fee.
archMetro Lighting
Web: www.metrolightingcenters.com
Phone: 314.645.9100
Mail: 6801 Arsenal, St. Louis, Missouri 63139
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • They are a participant in AmerenUE's CFL recycling program. Residents can drop off their used CFLs for recycling free of charge. Broken bulbs will be accepted if they are contained in a zip-top plastic bag.
RecyclePak (a service of Sylvania and Veolia)
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • They offer kits for $16.95 that hold up to 12 small CFLs or 6-8 medium to large CFLs. The kit can be conveniently mailed through any U.S. Post Office.
Think Green From Home (a service of Waste Management, Inc.)
  • Materials Accepted: CFLs.
  • Their $16.95 kit holds up to thirteen bulbs (they also offer a kit for tubes). They deliver the kit to you. You line the box with their Mercury VaporLok bag, fill the box with your used bulbs, and then ship the full box to them using their prepaid shipping label.
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