Fluorescent and high-intensity discharge light bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs, but contain a small amount of mercury. These bulbs cannot be put in the garbage per Minnesota state law. The mercury does not escape the bulb unless broken, so use caution when handling the bulbs.
What to Recycle
- Compact fluorescent bulbs (all sizes)
- Fluorescent bulbs of all shapes and sizes (tubes, circles, U-shaped, bug “zappers,” tanning lamps, and black lights)
- High intensity discharge (HID) lamps, typically used for exterior lighting (metal halide, mercury vapor and high pressure sodium)
- Neon lights
Recycling & Disposal Information
- There are many convenient recycling options for fluorescent bulbs and lamps. Don’t place fluorescent bulbs in your household recycling or garbage bins.
- County household hazardous waste drop-off sites collect fluorescent and HID bulbs for recycling on its recycling drop-off days. (some counties offer this service for free and others may have a minimal charge).
- Ask the retailer where you purchased the bulbs if the store has a “take back” program to accept bulbs for recycling.
Remember, it’s okay to throw out ordinary incandescent light bulbs, LED and halogen bulbs because they don’t contain mercury. If in doubt about what to throw, contact your county.
Store and Transport
Exercise care when handling and transporting fluorescent and HID light bulbs to avoid breakage; don’t drop or handle them roughly.
Don’t break or crush fluorescent or HID light bulbs—you could be exposed to mercury.
For many Minnesotans, the house, porch, shrubs and trees are donned with holiday lights. Depending on one’s holiday lighting enthusiasm, a home can save between $10 to $250 each holiday season by switching to LED holiday lighting. This is because, according to the Department of Energy, LED holiday lights save up to 90% of the energy used by traditional incandescent holiday lights. LEDs are also safer, sturdier, longer lasting, and easier to install.
For every old holiday lighting string recycled and replaced with more efficient LED holiday lighting, 19 kilowatt-hours of electricity are saved over the course of the holiday season. This is the same amount of energy as a common CFL household light bulb would use if left on for 24 hours a day for 2 months straight!
RAM has recycled over 840,000 pounds of holiday lighting since the inception of this program. If even half of these light strands were upgraded to more efficient LED holiday lighting, Minnesotans are saving over 7.7 million kilowatt-hours and $648,000 year after year. That’s enough energy to power the electricity of 686 homes for an entire year!