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Recycling Bulbs and Ballasts

blurred colorful lights with black background

Are you properly disposing of old lighting materials?

Some lamps and ballasts contain toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead, which are harmful to the environment and the people who handle them, if not disposed of correctly. Lighting equipment that falls under this category are subject to the opens in a new windowUniversal Waste Rule and the opens in a new windowToxic Substance Control Act, as regulated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Benefits of recycling bulbs and ballasts

close-up compact fluorescent bulb with black background
The EPA recommends bringing old CFL bulbs to a qualified recycler.

Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.  opens in a new windowLearn more about CFLs and mercury

Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.

Other types of light bulbs that contain mercury

The  opens in a new windowEnvironmental Protection Agency has complete lists of materials that fall under hazardous waste and universal waste category. Visit their website to learn about national and state regulations, and proper disposal techniques of toxic metal containing items.

Fluorescent bulbs:

  • Linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes
  • Bug zappers
  • Tanning bulbs
  • Black lights
  • Germicidal bulbs
  • Fluorescent induction bulbs
  • High output bulbs, and
  • Cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.

High intensity discharge bulbs:

  • Metal halide
  • Ceramic metal halide
  • Induction
  • Plasma
  • High pressure sodium, and mercury vapor.

Mercury short-arc bulbs and neon bulbs

discarded fluorescent bulbs

Where to recycle bulbs and ballasts

For households:

Household hazardous waste (including bulbs and ballasts) may be dropped off at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection facility on the first and third Saturdays April through November, 8 a.m.- 12 p.m.  opens in a new windowClick here for details.

For commercial and industrial customers:

Commercial and Industrial Customers must arrange recycling through a third party collection.

Local businesses that have recycling programs include:

For additional recycling services, visit opens in a new windowEarth911.

Most recycling services charge rates per box, or per bulb. Call and compare for quotes to find the recycling provider that best fits your business needs.

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