Light Bulbs (Fluorescent / CFL) Alternative ways to recycle Illegal in Garbage & Drains Hazardous Waste Through the IWMA’s SLO Take Back Program, every retailer that sells compact fluorescent lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes in San Luis Obispo County must take those items back from the public for FREE. To be disposed of through this program, lightbulbs/tubes may not be broken. The SLO Take Back Program is funded by a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Never Throw in the Garbage Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which is a hazard for your health and the environment. Never throw them away. Store them outside in a sealed container, and dispose of them as hazardous waste. Air Out Room if Bulb Breaks Broken CFL bulbs can release mercury vapor. If one breaks, clear people and pets out of the room, and then air it out for five to ten minutes. To stop the vapor from spreading, also shut off the heat, ventilation and air-conditioning. Avoid Vacuuming if Possible Don’t use a vacuum to clean up because this can spread the mercury powder from a broken CFL bulb. Instead, sweep up broken pieces with cardboard or paper. If there are any leftover shards of glass, use a piece of tape to pick them up. Identifying a CFL Bulb If you are unsure if your bulb is CFL, check if your bulb is listed with these other CFL bulbs: linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes, bug zappers, tanning bulbs, black lights, germicidal bulbs, high output bulbs and cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs. Alternative Ways to Recycle Recycle at Home Depot Home Depot accepts CFL bulbs for recycling, though not all locations accept fluorescent tubes or LED light bulbs. Call ahead if you are trying to dispose of a fluorescent tube or LED bulb. Batteries Plus Bulbs Recycling Services Batteries Plus Bulbs accepts a wide variety of batteries and light bulbs for recycling, including CFLs and fluorescent tubes. See a full list of items they accept here. Depending on the item, a small fee may apply. Find your closest location. Find a CFL Recycler Use this search tool by RecycleABulb.com to find a CFL bulb recycler close to you. Mail-Back Programs There are a number of organizations that sell mail-back kits for fluorescent and CFL light bulbs. The cost of each kit includes shipping charges. Check out this list of programs on the EPA’s website to get started. Did You Know? Which Bulbs Are More Energy Efficient Than Incandescent Lamps? LED lights are more energy efficient than incandescent and CFL bulbs: They last 50 times as long as traditional incandescent bulb and use 80 percent less energy. Fluorescent bulbs last three to 25 times longer than incandescents and use anywhere between 20 and 80 percent less energy.