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Proper light disposal

Proper disposal of used fluorescent and High Intensity Discharge lamps are important in preserving the environment. Fluorescent lamps provide lighting and illumination for countless businesses, schools, and homes. HID lamps (mercury-vapor, metal halide and high pressure sodium) are used for illuminating streets, floodlights and industrial applications.

Most of these lamps have been improperly collected as municipal waste and dumped in ordinary sanitary landfills. Broken lamps release mercury and other metals that cause damage to the environment.

Recycling process
Recycling used fluorescent lights and HID lamps is a proven method, capable of recovering greater than 99% of the mercury in the spent lights. A technique called crush-and-sieve is used to recover the mercury. First the lamps are crushed and then sieved to seperate the large particles from the mercury-containing phosphor powder.

The phosphor powder is collected and processed under intense heat and pressure. The mercury is volatilized and the distilled to the required purity. The glass particles are seperated and recycled into fiberglass. Aluminum components are also seperated and recycled seperately. With the exception of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) ballasts, all components of used lamps are recycled into reusable/saleable raw materials.

Hazardous waste
Used HID and fluorescent lamps may be classified as hazardous waste because of their mercury content and are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Regulations such as the RCRA provide management of hazardous wastes.

Disposal process for residents
Mercury-containing lamps should be placed in a box with packaging to protect them from breaking, marked "Mercury Lamps for Recycling." Breakage of these lamps could result in mercury release. If lamps are broken, store them in a sealed container.

Lamps containing mercury discarded by residential home owner's are typically not subjected to hazardous waste rules and can be discarded to municipal-waste landfills, however, it is recommended that you take these lamps to household-hazardous-waste collection centers.
(Call your county's recycling coordinator to find the center nearest you.)

Disposal process for businesses
Small business should contact a subsidized mercury collection/dropoff service if your city, county or state environmental or solid waste program offers them. Depending on the amount of hazardous waste your business generate, you might be required to keep documentation of disposed hazardous materials. Regulation varies from State to State. Contact your local agency for up-to-date State regulations on disposing hazardous materials.

This article courtesy of www.hydroponicsearch.com

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