Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL’s) are a great alternative to incandescent lightbulbs because of their efficiency and increased life span, but because each fluorescent lightbulb contains a small amount of Mercury, it is more important that the bulbs be correctly recycled.
The release of Mercury into the environment leads to a build up of Mercury in fish which affects fish-eating predators and humans. The amount of Mercury in each lightbulb is very small and poses no threat when used in your home or workplace. The accumulation of Mercury, however, can have disastrous effects. It is important to keep the bulbs out of landfills and incinerators.
There are several options for safe disposal locally:
- West Michigan Environmental Action Council will take your intact CFL’s for recycling at the facility at 1007 Lake Dr. SE Grand Rapids.
- Intact bulbs can also be brought to any Home Depot or Lowes store.
- A local recycling service station can assist in CFL recycling.
- For a more comprehensive guide to recycling locations around west michigan see WMEAC’s CFL recycling map.
Interesting Fact: CFLs actually reduce the amount of Mercury released into the environment. The biggest contributor to Mercury release are coal-fired power plants. Less energy efficient incandescent bulbs are believed to cause the release of over three times the amount Mercury as CFL’s.