Friday, August 08, 2008

Now You Know...

Solutions to Fluorescent Problems
by Clay Flaherty, AmeriCORPS*VISTA for Media

The widespread use of fluorescent bulbs, and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), in businesses and homes across Ohio often leaves owners wondering where to take their spent bulbs, as local recycling centers are rarely equipped to deal with such volatile materials (fluorescent lights use varying levels of mercury as part of their lighting mechanism). Although some types of these bulbs can be disposed of as solid waste, it is both safer, and environmentally friendly, to seek out a recycling program to take them to.

According to Athenian activists Donna Goodman and Richard Carlson, there are recylcing alternatives available for these kinds of lights. Goodman writes:

In terms of recycling of household generated compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs),
unfortunately there is not a good local option that I am aware of. Some
municipalities in other states have collection sites at local stores (which
volunteer to be a site), from which the spent lamps are then collected and sent for
recycling by the municipality. The cost and liability of managing mercury-bearing
lamps are two reasons why municipalities may shy away from developing such
programs.

But there is some positive news! In June, Home Depot announced a nationwide
collection program for spent CFL's (only). This is probably the best option I know
if, if you don't consider the gasoline that you'd use to get there. The nearest
Home Depots are Parkersburg and Zanesville (maybe Marietta? If anyone knows of
others, let us know). So consider saving up your spent CFLs for your next trip to
Home Depot. I'd recommend that you call the store first to ensure that they will
accept your lamps before you pack up your lamps and make the drive.

As a final option, I have heard that you can purchase a box within which you place
your spent CFL's and full, you mail them to a recycler for a fee. I could get some info
on that if anyone is interested.

Go here for more information about Home Depot's CFL collection program.

In addition to Goodman's comments, Carlson also has some ideas about what to do with your spent fluorescent bulbs if you can't make it to the nearest Home Depot:

There are local drop-off opportunities at a few churches, such as Christ The King,
Good Shepherd Episcopal, Christ Lutheran, Presbyterian and I believe the Unitarian
Fellowship. I'll bet the Quaker Meeting House in Chauncey would take them too, as
most certainly would the Rural Action offices in Trimble. As far as I know all of
these channel the bulbs to Greg Kremer, who's the chair of OU's Department of
Mechanical Engineering and one of the winners of Rural Action's 2008 Sustainability
Award.



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