Recycling Fluorescent Lighting

January 8th 2009
Recycling Fluorescent Lighting

Many people make a New Year's resolution for themselves, and while some resolutions are personal goals, many are focusing on living a greener lifestyle. When we think of greening our lifestyles, the waste we produce, and what we recycle comes to mind. Recycling your old used fluorescent lights instead of throwing them in the trash is a great way to start. It may not seem like a big deal to throw one or 2 away, but when disposed of improperly, fluorescent lights have a negative impact on the environment, and in turn our own health.

History of Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent light technology first entered the commercial marketplace in the early 1930's, and can be found today illuminating department stores, warehouses, office buildings, as well as residential applications in homes, condos and apartment buildings. Fluorescent lighting has become popular all over the world, due to its energy efficiency, and longevity in comparison to incandescent light bulbs.

The earliest and most widely used fluorescent lights are tubes ranging from 2-8 ft in length, but in the early 1970's, General Electric researched a new design to fit a conventional bulb socket, creating what is known today as the Compact Fluorescent light or CFL bulb. Due to the expense of creating the manufacturing facilities to produce these new light sources, this technology did not enter the marketplace until the late 1980's, and like most new innovations, took a little while to catch on.

CFL bulbs, although more costly, use only 1/5th the electricity, and will last up to 15 times longer than a conventional incandescent bulb. If a homeowner were to convert all the light bulbs in their home to CFL's, it would cost around $90 for 30 fixtures, which in turn would save between $800 and $1,500 over the 5 year lifespan of the bulbs.

Recycling Fluorescent tubes and CFL's

Fluorescent lighting is definitely an easy way to increase your homes efficiency, but there is another very important factor to consider. Fluorescent lights contain mercury, among other gases within their vacuous tubes. An average 8 ft fluorescent tube can contain as much as 20 milligrams of mercury, and although a single broken tube does not pose an immediate health threat to an adult individual, caution should be exercised when cleaning up a broken light tube, and discarding dead or used fluorescent tubes by breaking them or throwing them in the dumpster causes a negative impact on the environment polluting both soil and water.

The best thing to do when you have depleted fluorescent tubes or CFL's is recycle them at a proper location. Most waste transfer stations do not accept Fluorescent tubes and bulbs as it requires a special process and facility to do so. However some retail and building supply locations have set up stations for you to drop off used fluorescent lights for safe recycling.

Drop off locations

IKEA and Home Depot are 2 large chains who are dedicated to safe fluorescent light recycling, and any of these companies' locations across Canada will accept expired fluorescent tubes and CFL Bulbs from residential customers.For commercial applications with many lights, a fluorescent tube pick up and disposal service is required.

In the Lower Mainland, Nu-Life Industries will pick up and recycle both fluorescent lights, batteries and other such materials containing levels of mercury for a small fee per unit. Find out more by visit their website or call them toll free at 1 800 247 6724.

When recycling your fluorescent lighting, think of the other items in your home that can be recycled as well. Instead of polluting our soil through disposal in landfills, rechargeable batteries of all types can be safely recycled and materials reused to manufacture new ones. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation or RBRC is dedicated to keeping these items out of landfills, and recycling them properly through their Call-2-Recycle initiative. You can drop off your rechargeable batteries at any London Drugs, The Source By Circuit City, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Sears, Zellers, and Shell Busey's Home Services Referral Network offices at Unit 7, 2320 King George Highway in South Surrey.

Happy Recycling!