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Home Depot Offers Recycling for Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Some big retailers are promoting compact fluorescent light bulbs as a way to save energy. But improper disposal of the bulbs creates a hazard, because they contain small amounts of mercury.

As an Energy Star builder over 50% of the bulbs in my homes are CFL’s as they are part of the program and because they use a fraction of the energy and last 5 times longer.

Recycling them is about to get easier. Home Depot, the nation’s second-largest retailer, will announce on Tuesday that it will take back old compact fluorescents in all 1,973 of its stores in the United States, creating the nation’s most widespread recycling program for the bulbs.
 “We kept hearing from the community that there was a little bit of concern about mercury in the C.F.L.’s,” said Ron Jarvis, Home Depot’s senior vice president  Until now, consumers had to seek out local hazardous waste programs or smaller retail chains willing to collect the bulbs for recycling. The Environmental Protection Agency has been looking into putting bulb drop-off boxes at post offices, said Jim Berlow, director of the agency’s hazardous waste minimization and management division.
Home Depot and Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, have vigorously promoted the bulbs as part of their commitment to the environment. Wal-Mart announced in October 2006 that it wanted to sell 100 million compact fluorescents by the end of 2007. It surpassed that goal, selling 193 million bulbs to date, while Home Depot sold over 75 million in 2007.
The average household reduces its energy budget by $12 to $20 a month using compact fluorescents. Additionally, better technology has made the bulbs’ harsh glow somewhat warmer and softer, though many people still object to it.
Mercury is found in other common household items like electronics, appliances and pesticides. Its vapors, however, can harm people and pollute the environment, which is why recycling is encouraged. (In some places it is against the law not to recycle the bulbs.)


The E.P.A. devotes pages of its Web site to cleanup instructions for broken compact fluorescents.

Most bulbs contain 2.3 to 3.5 milligrams of mercury, which is below the National Electrical Manufacturers Association recommendation of 5 milligrams or fewer. It is a small amount, equivalent to the volume of the steel ball in the tip of a ballpoint pen. Most people in their home have 1,000 times more mercury literally in their thermostat, let alone thermometers.
Rubicon Construction
Some excerpts in this blog from The New York Times
Posted by Nic Stover at 7/15/2008 3:36:00 PM
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