High-efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs seem like one of those environmental choices that is a win-win. Sure, they cost more than traditional light bulbs, but they can last ten times as long and are about five times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. Subjectively, I prefer the light—it's a slightly warmer tone.
But, hold up. There is a downside. High-efficiency light bulbs contain mercury, and should not be disposed of with your garbage. (Um, mercury in landfills? Seriously bad news.)
Mason-based Cleanlites Recycling, Inc. can help small businesses (with average use of approximately 100 bulbs per year) safely dispose of their mercury-containing bulbs. Their Lamp Recycling Box Program is a pre-paid box that gets sent back to Cleanlites when full.
Companies and municipalities can explore other alternatives at LampRecycle.org.
For individuals, there are several options:
-Oakland County residents of SOCCRA member cities can take the bulbs to their facility by appointment.
-The Recycle Ann Arbor will accept the bulbs for $1 each.
-Residents of Washtenaw County can drop off their bulbs for free on Saturdays at the Washtenaw County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center on Zeeb Road (734.222.6865).
-IKEA has bins in their lighting department where customers can drop off their used light bulbs. This makes sense when you consider IKEA sells the bulbs…
-Other organizations offer a prepaid mail-back box option like Cleanlites' Sylvania charges $15 for a box that will hold a dozen bulbs; Bulbs.com charges $94 for a box that holds 200.
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
Sources: Mike Kimmel, Cleanlites; Sarah Kubik, Recycle Detroit; LampRecycle.org; Crave.