How to dispose of mercury-containing light bulbs

When fluorescent tubes and other mercury-containing lights burn out, there are some simple steps to safely dispose of them.

Fluoro tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CPLs) contain small amounts of mercury and are commonly found in homes and workplaces.

While there are only tiny quantities of mercury in each light, the millions of fluorescent tubes and CFLs tossed in the bin each year constitute the largest source of mercury bound for Australian landfill.

So when bulbs stop working and need to be changed, it’s important that old fluorescent lighting is recycled to avoid toxic mercury leaching into waterways and the wider ecosystem.

Recycling fluorescent lighting also recovers valuable materials like glass, aluminium and phosphor that can be used in products like fertilizer and aluminium cans.

Here are three easy steps you can take when you need to safely dispose of mercury-containing lights:

1. Remove bulb, store it somewhere safe

First, remove the bulb and store it somewhere safe until it is ready to be recycled at a designated collection point.

The only time when you should put mercury-containing lighting in your bin at home is when the globe is broken.

If the globe is broken, make sure you follow these steps to clean it up properly, then wrap up the broken bulb and place it in your general waste bin.

2. Find your local recycling point

Local councils can collect different types of lighting, however it’s important to check ahead.

For example, you will need to take fluorescent tubes to waste depots however, you may be able to leave CFLs at council offices.

Businesses such as IKEA also have drop-off points for used CPLs.

You can visit the Recycling Near You website to find your local disposal point and learn more about the recycling programs in your state.

3. Contact Ecocycle if you have large volumes of lights

If you have a business with commercial-scale amounts of used fluorescent lighting, then Ecocycle can help.

As Australia’s largest lighting and mercury recycler, we provide a full lighting recycling service from the supply of boxes and stillages, through to pick-up and provision of recycling certificates.

We can collect all types of lighting, as well as old ballasts, lighting frames that hold the globes or tubes, and old wiring.

We can tailor a recycling program to your needs, so give us a call on 1300 32 62 92 or fill in the form below to speak with one of our lighting waste specialists.


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