October 12, 2004
FLUORESCENT LAMP DISPOSAL
By: Paul Frisman, Associate Analyst
You asked if fluorescent lamps are considered hazardous waste, and how they should be disposed of.
Businesses must manage fluorescent lamps as a hazardous waste, preferably by recycling them. Residential customers may treat the lamps like other garbage, but are encouraged to bring them to a local hazardous waste collection program.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), state hazardous waste regulations require businesses to manage fluorescent lamps as a hazardous waste, usually by recycling them. Fluorescent lamps are considered a hazardous waste because they contain mercury, a toxic substance. Fluorescent lamps removed from commercial, industrial or institutional facilities are considered “universal waste.” This refers to a type of hazardous waste (1) generated in a wide variety of settings (2) from a large number of sources, (3) that is present in great volume. When disposed of, these products, including batteries, certain pesticides, used electronics, and mercury-containing thermostats, in addition to fluorescent, neon and mercury vapor lamps, are subject to less stringent requirements than other types of hazardous waste (Conn. Agency Regs. § 22a-449(c)-113).
According to DEP's Tom Metzner, DEP regulates low-mercury fluorescent lamps not technically considered hazardous waste through solid waste regulations (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 22a-209-17) that parallel the hazardous waste regulations. In practice, therefore, businesses should treat discarded fluorescent lamps as a universal waste. It is less expensive for businesses to recycle fluorescent lamps than discard them as hazardous waste. The Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Facilities Household Hazardous Waste Fact Sheet (http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wst/recycle/fllist.htm) lists fluorescent lamp recycling facilities and lamp brokers. More information on the regulations governing the disposal of universal waste can be found at this DEP web site (http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wst/mercury/uwrule.htm).
Fluorescent lamps generated from residential sources are not subject to the universal waste rule. Homeowners may therefore simply throw away used fluorescent lamps. But DEP recommends that people dispose of fluorescent lamps by bringing them to a local household hazardous waste collection program. The department lists a schedule of household hazardous waste collection days here (http://dep.state.ct.us/wst/recycle/hhwsched.htm). A limited number of towns will also accept them at their transfer stations.