If you break a fluorescent light bulb (including compact fluorescent lights), you can minimize any risks by following cleanup and disposal recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The following information includes tips on how to manage burned out compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) appropriately:
Two retailers – Home Depot and Ikea – currently take back CFLs from homeowners. Take your burned out CFL to any Home Depot orange box store returns desk and hand it to an associate who will recycle it for you. Ikea has a collection area in its stores where customers can place fluorescent light bulbs including CFLs to be recycled.
You can purchase boxes online or in retail stores and mail your used CFLs to be recycled: Mail-in programs for CFLs
Check directly with your local waste management agency on the recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community: Local government recycling contacts
If your community has a household hazardous waste drop-off center or offers household hazardous waste collection events, check to see if CFLs are accepted. Please contact your local government for more information on these events: Hazardous household waste contacts.
If recycling is not an option where you live, simply place the CFL bulb in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in your trash. However, you should not dispose of CFLs or any mercury-containing device in your trash if it is destined for a waste incinerator as this increases the risk of mercury emissions to the environment. Ask your local waste management agency for specific guidance in this situation.
Businesses are required by Virginia’s laws and regulations to recycle fluorescent lights or handle them as hazardous wastes. Additional information is available on DEQ’s waste and pollution prevention websites.