DES MOINES, Iowa – Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) save energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs, but when they do burn out, disposing of them takes some extra thought.
Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury. Reo Menning, a spokesperson for Metro Waste Authority, says they should be handled delicately if they break.
"Basically, what it requires you to do is leave your home for a little while, about ten minutes, and then come back and you need to scrape them up – with a piece of cardboard, or using tape – but don't sweep and don't vacuum."
And there is one more step in the disposal process, she adds:
"Put it in a glass jar with a metal lid, or you can put it in a plastic bags that seal, and then take it to your local hazardous waste drop-off center to have it recycled."
If the bulb simply burns out, it also can be taken to a hazardous waste disposal site, explains Menning. Several retailers, including Target and Home Depot, will accept the unbroken bulbs, too. She says it's likely that many of these bulbs are ending up in landfills because people are in the habit of just throwing burned-out light bulbs into the trash.
Find out more about proper CFL bulb disposal online, atWhereShouldItGo.com.