How to Properly Dispose of CFL Bulbs in Maryland

February 10, 2015 Written by  Comments Print
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Do you use CFL bulbs in your home in Maryland? It's important to make sure you dispose of them properly.  

Compact Fluorescent Lighting

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have recently burst onto the scene in a big way. While they were first invented in the '70s, CFLs didn't enjoy much commercial success until recent years. Aggressive marketing of CFLs as an energy efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs led more and more consumers to adopt this product for use in their homes and businesses.

The numbers live up to the hype. Compared to incandescent lights, CFL bulbs “last 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt,” according to the Maryland Department of the Environment. A 25 Watt CFL produces about the same amount of lumens as a 100 Watt incandescent. The MDE continues, “Use of CFLs reduces electricity use and the amount of pollutants such as nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide emitted from power plants.”

Mercury Contents

One issue with CFL lights is that, like all fluorescent lights, they contain trace amounts of mercury. Concerns over the mercury contents of CFLs have a tendency to be overstated. The amount of mercury in a CFL bulb is 5 milligrams. This is barely enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. Compare this to a (now obsolete) mercury thermometer, which contained at least 500 milligrams of mercury. In fact, even if you drop a CFL and it breaks, “the amount of mercury released can evaporate into the air where it will likely remain at a level below safety standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration,” according to the MDE.

Proper Disposal

While CFLs are totally safe to use, it's important to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner in order to prevent mercury from escaping. There are two ways to do so:


  • Your county may offer recycling for CFLs at the local public recycling facility. Here is a list of all counties in Maryland and their options for recycling CFLs. Note that not all counties offer CFL recycling.

  • Many private companies such as local hardware stores also offer CFL recycling options. They may offer drop-off, pick-up, and shipping options.



Are you interested in learning how CFL and other energy efficient lighting solutions can benefit your home? A home energy audit from greeNEWit can uncover problem areas in your home and make recommendations to fix them, which will improve the energy efficiency performance of your home and save you money on your electric bills. Call today at 866.994.7630 or visit us at out website to learn more. 

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