Fluorescent lamps are found in our homes, workplaces and public spaces, yet most of these lights end up in landfill even though they can be recycled.
Authorities estimate 95 per cent of mercury-containing lamps are sent to landfill in Australia these days despite free recycling programs that run across the country.
One of the big reasons to recycle fluorescent lamps is that they contain highly toxic mercury.
While there is only a small amount of mercury in each light, the huge volumes of fluorescent lamps that end up in landfill means harmful levels of mercury ends up in landfill and eventually the wider environment.
Tips for recycling fluorescent lamps
Households can recycle fluorescent lamps at designated drop-off points rather discarding them into the home recycling bin.
Check with your council to see where households can recycle fluorescent lamps — council depots and transfer stations typically have drop-off points.
Otherwise check the Recycling Near You website for further options.
Keep in mind that broken fluorescent lamps cannot be recycled and should be wrapped up and placed in the general waste bin.
Broken fluorescent lamps and other broken lighting should not go into your home recycling bin.
Why should you recycle fluorescent lamps?
Recycling fluorescent lamps and tubes helps protect the environment by recovering the mercury inside the lights rather than letting it leak into landfill.
When lamps are discarded in landfill, mercury can leach into waterways and have devastating effects on community health and the wider environment such as Minamata disease.
Recycling fluorescent household globes and lamps also recovers valuable materials like ceramic, glass, aluminium and phosphor that can be reused in fertiliser, aluminium cans and other products.
Reusing old resources in new products reduces the need to extract further non-renewable ores and materials, which often requires a lot of energy to process.
Then there are states like Victoria where the dumping of e-waste, which includes lighting waste, in landfill has been banned from July 2019.
South Australia also prohibits the disposal of fluorescent lights in landfill.
How can you recycle fluorescent lights?
While households can drop off old fluorescent lamps at council-designated spots, there are also commercial-scale recycling services that make recycling fluorescent lights simple for businesses and larger organisations.
As Australia’s largest lighting and mercury recycler, Ecocycle can provide a tailored recycling service from the supply and pick-up of collection boxes to the provision of recycling certificates to workplaces across the country.
Once we have collected the old lamps, the lamps and bulbs are crushed and the various resources are separated out at our lighting processing plant.