Home Depot has started a nationwide compact flourescent light bulb recycling program. “At each The Home Depot store, customers can simply bring in any expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk.” CFL bulbs contain mercury and can be damaging to the environment if thrown into regular landfills. [New York Times]


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  1. zentex says:

    about fucking time!

    …but will I get yelled at for bringing in 100 at a time??

  2. crabbyman6 says:

    Hooray! This is great news, now we can send our mercury filled light bulbs to be “recycled” in China or India for free. But really, this is good news, while there’s not a lot of Hg in CFLs, it adds up quickly and there wasn’t an easy way to recycle them before this.

  3. mike says:

    I imagine that in about 5-8 years, this will be a problem.

    I bought my first CFL bulb about 4 years ago and it still works.

  4. friendlynerd says:

    IKEA has been doing this for a while

  5. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Can we still play lightsabers with the big ones?

  6. Nice … Seeing as how the nearest Ikea is ~200 miles away, and the nearest Home Depot is 20 I know which one will be getting my burnt CFLs

  7. battra92 says:

    @crabbyman6: The Mercury is recycled IIRC.

    But this is good. Assuming one of our CFLs does die out soon that is. Considering the oldest ones we have were bought three years ago I guess we have some time left.

    I do need to find 6 dimmable CFLs for our hanging lamp in the dining room. Any suggestions on where to get them would be great.

  8. chicagocooper says:

    Great!, But who is going to come to my house in a bio-hazard suite to clean up the broken ones? Oh wait, I forgot they are good for the environment.

  9. TheSeeker says:

    Great…now we get to stand in a line to return old light bulbs to the “store associate behind the returns desk”.

  10. NotAppealing says:

    Sounds good to me, although I too have yet to have one burn out.

  11. firesign says:

    that’s nice and all, but do standard fluorescent (NOT FLOURESCENT. SPELL CHECK IS YOUR FRIEND.) tubes also contain mercury or just cfl? there’s been a LOT more tubes used for many more years.

  12. Bladefist says:

    No thanks. I’ll keep using the normal light bulbs until I cant anymore. I don’t need the stress of a CFL breaking, or if I forget to recycle it, feel bad for killing the polar bears. Oh wait, isn’t that something else?

  13. AD8BC says:

    They want me to use those silly light bulbs and not throw them away when they are done?

    They can come to my house to pick them up.

  14. AD8BC says:

    @Bladefist: Hey Blade! I’m with you… I do have some CFL bulbs in my house, but only on the very few non-dimming fixtures that I have. All of my dimmers use incandescents or halogens.

    Dimmable CFLs have a long way to go before I start using them.

  15. Bladefist says:

    @AD8BC: I’m sure Al Gore will do it personally since he truly cares about the environment, and he is in no way doing it for personal gains rated in the hundreds of millions

  16. tonashideska says:

    I just mail my used fluorescents to the office’s of congressmen that voted for the ban on incandescents and let them worry about disposing them.

  17. jhpope says:
  18. Bladefist says:

    @tonashideska: lol. I giggle when I remember that our government is now telling us what kind of light bulbs to use. Then I cry.

  19. sir_eccles says:

    Perspective people!

    Less than 4 milligrams of mercury vapor, most modern CFLs contain even less.

    The glass is thicker than old fashioned incandescent bulbs therefore breaking one is pretty hard.

    If it does break, the primary issue is with bits of glass. Airing the room will disperse the mercury vapor.

  20. AD8BC says:

    @tonashideska: Fantastic idea!

  21. azntg says:

    @Bladefist: Plus the headache induced by the light generated with CFL bulbs.

    Incandescent for me too!

  22. battra92 says:

    @Bladefist: The only reason I have switched is because I hate changing light bulbs all the time. The idea that people want to mandate it is ludicrous.

  23. bohemian says:

    Sweet! But will I be possibly detained for some obscure fraud charge because of some idiot employee?

    @Bladefist: I buy the kind that have the actual bulb encased in glass or plastic shaped like the old style edison bulb. No hazmat crew required.

  24. @Bladefist: You must love paying your light bill. I have a house full of CFLs, and I can tell you from several years’ experience that they’re just as good as the old-style bulbs, particularly the newer ones. The only places I don’t have them is where there are fixtures which take decorative bulbs (clear ones, in particular) of some sort that just can’t be replaced with CFLs.

    @battra92: I’m overjoyed to finally know where I might drop off a dead one, even though it’s been years since I had to change a light bulb in my house.

  25. Bladefist says:

    @battra92: It’s cool if you use them because you like them. I’m against being told to use them.

    @Steaming Pile: I have a strict policy of no lights on in rooms I am not in. So I save a lot there. Also I use low watt bulbs. Some day when I have bunch of kids running around, I may look at CFLs again (they leave all the lights on). I hear a lot about the mercury, some say its dangerous, some say its not. The fact that you have to take them somewhere to throw them away, makes me think they are dangerous. I’m not sure I want that in my home. We’ll see. I’m open to ideas, I just want the Government to stay out of it, and let the market dictate. It seems the market would be in favor of CFLs, you probably don’t need the government to get involved.

  26. ARP says:

    @chicagocooper: To much Faux News for you. Here’s the reality.

    1) If it breaks, air out the place and then sweep it up. That’s it. No Haz-Mat crew. That little event you saw on Faux News where a mom called the the Haz-Mat crew was a staged FUD attempt. BTW- the glass is much thicker and harder to break than a regular bulb.

    2) The power plant generates 3-4X the Hg through its operations (since 50%+ power plants are Coal) to light your single regular bulb. So you’re actually producing more Hg by NOT using CFL’s.

    3) Your ROI is very fast compared to a regular bulb. You get it back in a matter of a few months. So, you’re saving money.

  27. Bladefist says:

    @ARP: Then why cant we throw them away like normal bulbs, if they are so safe? mmm?

    I bet more bulbs are thrown away, then bulbs that are recycled. Just like paper, plastic, etc. So what are we really doing to our environment?

    In our attempt to fix a fake global warming problem, are we going to create a real one?

  28. crabbyman6 says:

    @Bladefist: Wait a few years for the LED lightbulbs to come out. They recently were able to produce pure white light, which was the problem for a long time. They’ll last longer, there’s no heavy metals involved and they should be cheaper. Mercury is only dangerous in the long term, which is the whole point of these recycling programs so that it doesn’t bioaccumulate in plants and animals. If you break one bulb in your house you’re still well below OSHA approved levels of mercury vapor. If you, somehow, break a case, that might be an issue. It also doesn’t absorb through skin well, so even touching it isn’t a problem, long term exposure to the vapor is the issue.

  29. battra92 says:

    @Steaming Pile: Well, we’re still switching over so we are disposing of incandescent bulbs and what not as they burn out. My parents ran 6 x 60W bulbs in the kitchen fixtures which are on at least 5 hours a day. I swapped them with 8W (I think) and there have been no complaints and it’s the energy equivalent of running less than one of the old bulbs!

    I’m not sold on global warming or anything (I think it’s 99% hype) but by my quick math at 14 cents a KWH at 5 hours a day, 30 days a month and a savings of 312W an hour … well, it just adds up. $6.55 a month by my quick and dirty calculation. That’s a bulb a month. After 6 months … Profit! This is also good because every 6 months you’d save another $3 that it would cost to replace the incans.

    If environmentalists are happy I’m using CFLs, I don’t care. I’m using them because I’m good at math (and I like saving money.)

  30. battra92 says:

    @Bladefist: We’ll see. I’m open to ideas, I just want the Government to stay out of it, and let the market dictate.

    Me too, and I like CFLs. If someone else wants to use the old fashioned type, go for it! I really don’t want to have a black market light bulb industry …

    There’s Hg in the old tube type fluorescent bulbs and those are still the preferred method for lighting a bathroom. We do have a traditional type bulb in our bathroom because I’ve heard that the humidity may shorten the lifespan of the CFLs. The compromise is we have a timer on the light so for when people (like me admittedly) leave the lights on it will shut itself off after a while.

    @crabbyman6: Wait a few years for the LED lightbulbs to come out. They recently were able to produce pure white light, which was the problem for a long time.

    Yeah, I need a new desklamp for my work area and have been looking at LED lights since that might be better on my eyes anyway.

  31. NotATool says:

    @firesign: Yes, all fluorescent bulbs contain mercury. Traditional standard tubes and CFLs.

  32. jennieblue22 says:

    @Bladefist: I must disagree. GW is real, and while CFLs may contain (TRACE amounts of) mercury, they are a much better option for the majority of families who leave the lights ON. Also, they are working on mercury-free bulbs – there are a few (pricey ones) out there. I applaud you, however, for your lights-off policy.

    For me, my city already had a recycling program, but i like this convenience as well. I use CFLs (the normal bulb-looking type) w/o worry because of it.

  33. cluff says:

    Ikea has been doing this for years, as far as i know its even offering this program worldwide…

  34. TechnoDestructo says:

    Pffft…it isn’t like there haven’t been fluorescent bulbs all over the planet for decades…and ones that break a lot more easily than CFLs.

    I’ve cleaned up more than my share with no extraordinary precautions and no dameadasdflk fdhurrrrr….

  35. crabbyman6 says:

    @Bladefist: You shouldn’t throw them away due to the Hg in them. The problem is that this heavy metal, like others, bioaccumulates as bigger things eat smaller things, as plants grow in soil, etc. Throwing away some here and there isn’t a huge deal as it will be so dilute to not cause a problem because each CFL has only 5mg Hg or less. Even throwing them away over time won’t present a huge problem. Plus, as ARP mentioned, coal plants produce a lot more Hg than these bulbs contain, 33% of the total Hg emissions in the U.S. whereas hazardous waste, which CFLs comprise a small part of is less than 10%, so really you’re cutting down on Hg output anyway(maybe you don’t believe in Hg poisoning either?).

    Throwing away truckloads is going to cause spikes in mercury contamination in areas and cause mercury poisoning in that area and elsewhere as its carried away. Plus, we get the added benefit that Hg isn’t quite as dependent on the global environment as CO2 since a majority of it falls within a short distance of its origin, so cutting back on our Hg levels will make a local change, unlike cutting back just our CO2 emissions while letting China and India run rampant. The whole point of these recycling programs is to prevent potential problems, but like anything like this if your too lazy or ignorant to use them and are happy with the status quo and not caring about anyone but yourself(as its evident you are), then you’re just being a part of the problem anyway.

    I also don’t believe the Hg problem from CFLs is as big as people are making it sound since many every day items, such as batteries and tube lights, contain Hg but it is a slight concern. Comparing it to global warming and claiming that you’re solving one problem while creating another is just ludicrous, maybe you should look into the facts instead of just regurgitating the same talking points in every post whether its substantiated or not.

  36. battra92 says:

    @crabbyman6: I think part of the reason why a lot of people don’t believe in environmentalism is that the tactic to convince those who have reservations about the “science” involved are put down, called ignorant etc in the best case scenario.

    The worst case is throwing Molotov Cocktails at Hummer dealerships by Earth worshiping zealots.

  37. crabbyman6 says:

    @battra92: I think the reverse is more true, actually. People get called ignorant for believing in the facts, presented as facts, without any spin involved. Science isn’t like law where a reasonable doubt is enough, there’s always doubt involved in science. I see this every day as a PhD candidate in chemistry with a degree in biochemistry. The anti-environmentalists cast this doubt so that the general public believes it as the real science and scientific method is very complicated and most people just don’t want to get into it.

  38. Squeezer99 says:

    so i have to spend $10 in gas to get to HD to recycle a $3 lightbulb?

  39. Bladefist says:

    @battra92: @crabbyman6: Alright, I’ll bite. I’ll buy some CFLs. I’m flexible.

    @jennieblue22: Global Warming is a lie. I can prove it:


    This is what happens when real scientist do research, not politicians.

    If you look on page 4 of the pdf, you’ll find Al Gores chart. The article before will explain the chart, and how it was created. If go down to page 8, to the next chart, you’ll see a real scientist chart, showing the comparison of temp with solar activity, and a comparison with hydrocarbon use. You will notice that the temp fluctuates PERFECTLY with solar activity. I mean, its beautiful. Look at it.

    If you take the time to read that PDF, from a real scientist, you see global warming is real DURING high solar activity, and NOT caused by humans. As shown at the bottom of the chart.

    Read this pdf and get back with me. Also this scientist is the founder of the weather channel. Al Gore refuses to debate with him, so he is suing Al Gore, to force a debate in court. Have fun.

  40. Bladefist says:

    Also if anyone else who believes humans cause global warming: Read that pdf, if you have the audacity to argue after that, I’ll debate.

  41. Darklighter says:

    @Bladefist: Some guy said it on the internet! It must be true!

    If you’re so dead-set on not believing the vast majority of climate scientists, at least have the decency to cite papers published in accredited scientific journals.

    And as far as not buying CFLs because you’re not supposed to throw them in the garbage, has that stopped you from buying AA batteries?

  42. Bladefist says:

    @Darklighter: Nah I throw’em away. That isn’t just some guy on the internet. Did you read it? Probably not. So if I link to it, on the internet, it’s not good enough? This isn’t some blogger

  43. u1itn0w2day says:

    crabbylman6 made an excellent point of these bulbs being more dangerous in mass quanities than by themselves.People have to realize how much crap they are already throwing into lands fills like disposable batteries and electronics both of which contain heavy metals and pvcs.I think it all comes down to parts per million or the concentrations of this stuff.

    But you don’t have to do like the pc soccer mom and call in a hazmat team to clean up 1 broken bulb.I heard don’t vacum but sweep it up and put the debris in a seperate bag before it goes in the regular trash.If you do vacum you are supposed to throw the vacum bag away right away as well.

    Most people do not even realize the old tubular flourescent bulb is just as bad.Most businesses warn you not to get caught throwing them in a dumpster-it supposedly a 15k fine per bulb as a business.

    Home Depot did this for the PR as much as anything.It’s just another piece of bait to get people to come into their stores.Best Buy already recycles cell phone batteries and I think some other retailers recycle things like power tool batteries.

    I used to change the old bulbs at least once a year.I’m at almost 2 year mark with no changes.I haven’t used them outside or put them in the bathroom yet since it takes too long to turn on.In other words this really won’t kick in til a few years from now since they supposed to last up to 9 years.

  44. Darklighter says:

    @Bladefist: I did read it. It’s posted at KUSI, a news source I’ve never found to be particular insightful about anything, and the document contains no actual science. It cherry-picks bits and pieces of other papers. Real scientists perform significant statistical analysis of their data. This document contains none.

  45. Bladefist says:

    @Darklighter: Wrong. It’s very statistical, and very factual. But you have to read it with an open mind. It shows Al Gore’s charts, and compares with their charts. Ignorance is bliss.

  46. JoeTan says:

    These lamps are junk. This might be the worst idea ever ever.

    Pros: they use less energy

    Cons: everything else from poisoning the earth, to needing a HAZMAT crew to clean up a broken lamp.

    Also, these things DO NOT LAST 5 years. Not even close. They start to lose output pretty quickly and if you are lucky to get a fixture that requires a special lamp, then you’ll be throwing away that fixture at some point when you can no longer find a compatible lamp.

    I USED to be a supporter of the CFL but now I am 100% behind the old fashioned bulb and to save money I TURN THEM OFF WHEN NOT IN THE ROOM.

  47. sean77 says:

    To put it into perspective, a single CFL bulb contains the same amount of mercury as a 1 pound swordfish filet.

    Hardly something to fret over.

  48. Darklighter says:

    @Bladefist: No scientific paper should be read with an open mind. It should be read with an extremely critical mind. Your document shows charts and cites numbers, but doesn’t provide any analysis showing those numbers to have statistical significance. While the documents it references might provide some valid scientific insight, I don’t have the time to wade through hundreds of pieces of research to determine that. The burden of actual, scientific proof is on you, not me.

  49. u1itn0w2day says:

    Funny talking about Al Gores charts.This weekend past one of the talking heads says Walmart has done more for the enviorment than Al Gore by selling and educating the public on the curly q bulbs.He said Walmart educates the public with the signing for the bulbs and the number of customers that have bought those bulbs-in the millions proove that Walmart has done more for the enviorment than Al.

    But alot of that information on their signs may have come from or been motivated by Al.

  50. u1itn0w2day says:

    The sword fish analogy is pretty good.I heard the actual mecury size would be no more that the point of a sharpend pencil.

    I’d be more worried about the mecury in fish than a broken bulb.Like I said before most people don’t even realize the older flourescent tubes are just as bad for the enviorment and I see people put them out in the trash all the time-no bag,just sticken out of a can.I wonder if your local trash man realizes the danger when the trash in smashed or compacted turning flourescent bulbs into particulate matter.

  51. CyGuy says:

    @friendlynerd: Maybe IKEA is only doing it on a store-by-store basis? I know mine has been doing it for at least two years, as well as taking batteries, and plastic bags. At our local IKEA, the recycling bins are located near the main entrance.

    IKEA is a also a cheap source for buying new CFCs, as well as NiMh batteries.

    note: here’s a trick, if you didn’t bring a re-usable bag with you to IKEA, avoid the the 5 cent per bag charge (and help the planet) by grabbing a couple from the bag recycling bin!

  52. Bladefist says:

    @Darklighter: Okay thank you for clarifying that. I wasn’t quite sure if you were impossible, but now I know. I said keep an open mind, because one cannot become enlightened with a closed mind. So you don’t have time, sounds like the typical American who doesn’t want to be bothered with the facts, just rather be spoon fed propaganda by the media.

  53. LUV2CattleCall says:


    One thing I’ve noticed at many Ikeas is that they have a ton of BROKEN CFLs in them, due to morons throwing them in and or overloading the bin.

    Since the Hg vaporizes..that right there is a huge no no!

  54. battra92 says:

    @u1itn0w2day: But you don’t have to do like the pc soccer mom and call in a hazmat team to clean up 1 broken bulb.I heard don’t vacum but sweep it up and put the debris in a seperate bag before it goes in the regular trash.If you do vacum you are supposed to throw the vacum bag away right away as well.

    Never vacuum it up. Get a few strips of duct tape and pick it up that way.

  55. battra92 says:

    @Bladefist: That damn sun is causing all this trouble again? ;)

    Actually, I’ve heard more in favor of the solar notion than the carbon theory. It’s also way out of hand with the reactions people are having to what amounts to junk science. I mean, without the greenhouse effect

    To me, the biggest part is that man is so small, so insignificant that it’s nothing but vanity to think we are affecting God’s creation. Even if we are affecting it in some way, Algore even says it’s just 1C. Of course do him that means dead polar bears and a bunch of other things while I believe it means a slightly warmer day.

    I had professors at college who would tell us the science doesn’t add up since Carbon really doesn’t add all that much.

    It’s kind of like DDT. All these years later scientists are proving that Rachael Carson et. all were wrong but the consensus doesn’t want to give it up.

    Good luck with the CFLs. The best thing to do as a CONSUMER is to test them out and see if you like them or not and then decide if you want to keep them or not. Some people don’t like the light on them which is understandable and I’m not really big on them for reading (I still have a 40W in my bedside lamp for reading)

    If not, time to stock up on the old types. Congress was trying to ban the 100W a while ago in some ridiculous move.

  56. I hope in a couple years, when the first round of bulbs are dieing out, that there are commercials promoting the proper recycling of these bulbs, so consumers are aware these cannot be thrown away.

  57. drrictus says:

    @Bladefist: “@Darklighter: Wrong.”

    Oh, then you win.

  58. BlazerUnit says:

    @Bladefist: Your local electric utility might very well start a similar CFL recycling program. I believe Touchstone Energy (the large electric cooperative) is working with its local affiliates to do the same thing.


  59. fluf says:

    But don’t take away my traditional light bulb. Sure it makes heat but I like its warmth in winter, I just change them to CFL in summer. I would like LED light bulbs over CFL’s. Seems more green to me.

  60. dover says:

    I was excited by this, as I had several CFLs sitting here that I needed a way to recycle. I brought them into Home Depot tonight and nobody there knew about this program, not even the store manager. The associate I talked to didn’t even know what a CFL was until I explained it.

    I was about to leave and I saw they had a recycling center near the returns desk for batteries and a bucket next to that labeled “Light Bulbs” that was full of fluorescent bulbs, but they wouldn’t let me put mine in there. The associate said it was for burnt-out bulbs that were returned and were going to be recycled.

    “Exactly,” I said. “This is a burnt-out bulb and I want to have it recycled.”

    “No,” she said. “This is for light bulbs that people returned because they didn’t work, and we return them in the system.”

    “You just said burnt-out bulbs for recycling, that’s what I want. Home Depot just launched this program!”

    I ended up leaving without recycling them, but I called Jean Niemi, Sr. Manager of Corporate Communications (her name was on the press release), and let her know. They shouldn’t be releasing this stuff all over the Internet before the stores know about it.