Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, lead, metals, and other materials which have a harmful effect on the environment if not recycled.
What’s in a lamp? A fluorescent lamp consists of a glass shell, a high vacuum, a small amount of liquid mercury and evaporated mercury, some phosphor powder, and the metal end-caps and heated filaments.
Fluorescent light is produced by passing an electric current through mercury vapor, which generates ultraviolet energy. A phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb transforms the ultraviolet energy into visible light. A single four- foot fluorescent tube contains from 5 to 50 mg. of mercury.
When lamps are sent to landfills, or especially when incineration is used as an alternative disposal method, mercury vapors are released that can travel over 200 miles! It is highly toxic to the human nervous system and particularly poisonous to the kidneys. Once absorbed by the body, mercury is distributed by the blood to all tissues of the human body, and it easily crosses the placental barrier; prenatal exposure can lead to a variety of health problems including a severe form of cerebral palsy.
Why Recycle? Recycling guarantees all of your hazardous waste will be properly recycled by EPA-compliant UAE approved recycling facilities.
A large percentage of a lamp, often over 50%, will go to landfills even if it's recycled in the right way
Globally only 10-20% of mercury-containing lamps are sent to a mercury management facility
Recycling is Cost Effective
Over the lifecycle of a fluorescent lamp, the cost to recycle is less than 1% of the cost of ownership. Recycling your lamps and obtaining a certificate of recycling is also a guaranteed way to avoid fines and costly enforcement action which can easily exceed the cost of lamp recycling.
It is possible to keep mercury out of the air by sending intact lamps to a reputable lamp recycling company, where it is estimated that only 0.2% to 0.4% of the mercury is emitted to the atmosphere.
Mercury containing lamps are now quite inexpensive to recycle. However, the process still costs more than the recycled content is worth, so users must pay a small fee to have them recycled.
How small? Over the life cycle of a fluorescent lamp, the cost to recycle today is less than 1% of the cost of ownership, as the bulk of ownership dollars are spent to cover energy costs.
The estimated breakdown of costs is as follows:
1. Cost of materials: 3%;
2. Cost of installation and maintenance: 10%;
3. Cost of energy consumption: 86%; and
4. Cost of recycling: 1%.
3. Recycling is a Green Idea:
Implementing a lamp recycling program is a simple and practical way to “Go green” your organization and benefit from resulting positive PR. Recycling waste can earn your facility Green points too.
Implementing a waste recycling program within your organization is a quick and inexpensive step in the sometimes daunting “Go green” process. Having a recycling program in place can also be good for employee and customer loyalty and morale. Furthermore, recycling all mercury-containing lamps waste can help your facility meet LEED prerequisites, earn points, and achieve certification from the Go Green Initiative Programmes.
Fluorescent tubes, CFLs, HID, neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium and metal halide lamps are all considered to be universal hazardous waste, because they contain mercury and need to be processed at end-of-life
You Can Make a Difference
Recycling your lamps and other universal waste is the right thing to do! As the saying goes “every little bit counts” and keeping hazardous waste out of our landfills and reusing natural resources is a big step towards a sustainable world.
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How to Clean Up a Broken Fluorescent Lamp?
CFLs and Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tube. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal procedure below. Please also read the information on this page about what never to do with a mercury spill.
Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug
Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials
Disposal of Clean-up Materials
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming