Compact Fluorescents are the way of the future, no question about it, but at Form + Function we still have a few questions that keep nagging us.
One is: What do we do with our burned-out fluorescents? If we urge all our clients to become good citizens and switch to CFLs before there is a effective, or for that matter any, recycling program in place (and they actually listen to us!) how is this going to affect the environment?

Disposing of fluorescent lamps
During the last few days the staff at Form + Function has been scouring the internet and calling around for solutions to the proper disposal of fluorescent lamps.
Remember, we just replaced hundreds of good old incandescent bulbs with CFLs throughout our Santa Fe showroom.
We didn’t want to wait until they started failing before we had a plan for their environmentally safe disposal. Ok, they are supposed to last forever, but we also know that the promised 10,000 hours lamp life is the average life span of a CFL. Some die young.

I liked one suggestion we found on the internet: “Since there is currently no nationwide recycling programs, we advice that you pack up your used fluorescent bulbs safely in a box and save them in your garage until one becomes available.”
Cute! Just like a box of Christmas ornaments to keep for your grandchildren!
Not a totally bad idea, but one that of course only really applies to you and me, who are conscientious and the good guys, all “the others” will for sure not go for this idea!

But where?
Many internet sources sternly warned that no CFLs or other fluorescent lamps are allowed in the trash, but should be brought to “Your local household waste recycling center.”
Curious to find out if such a thing existed around here we started calling around: Called the City, the landfill, the Solid Waste managers in Santa Fe as well as Los Alamos (New Mexico). Nobody wanted our dead CFLs. One waste manager suggested just throwing them in the trash! We were of course appalled!
Since we know better, we wanted a real solution. We called Wal-Mart: No recycling program, Sam’s Club: Nope, Home Depot:Will recycle at no charge as many full-size fluorescents as you buy from them. As for CFLs, “The mercury content is so minute, they don’t have to be recycled. You can throw them in the trash!”
We did find one place that would dispose properly of CFLs: Envirosolve in Albuquerque. For $1 a bulb they would do it. Albuquerque is about 60 miles from Santa Fe, so a $50 pick-up fee would be added. Not quite tempting enough!
Form + Function is now seriously looking into the logistics of offering a recycling program for fluorescent lamps in Santa Fe.
We will keep you posted with an update when we have finalized the details for it.

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One Response to “Disposing of Fluorescent Bulbs”

  • Maria Gillen

    thanks for printing this info…i live in ABQ and have my first CFL that died young and didn’t want to throw it in the trash?! i guess i’ll hold on to it for now until there’s a decent way to recylce them…i’d even drop them off in S.Fe as i visit every so often…thanks, Maria