Fluorescent bulbs (both the compact curly bulbs and the tubes) are banned from the Dane County Landfill. The Streets Division we will not collect these from the curb, or the collection carts.
Do not place fluorescent bulbs into the refuse or recycling carts. Also, the Streets Division does not accept fluorescent tubes and bulbs at the drop-off sites.
What Should You Do With Old Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs?
You should take your old fluorescent lamps back to any retail store that sells fluorescent bulbs. Madison ordinances requires any store that sells fluorescent lamps and bulbs to take back old fluorescents from their customers and get them recycled. Stores may need to charge a fee for this service.
You can also take back old fluorescents to one of three lamp recycling firms in the Madison area. They may also charge a fee for recycling your old bulbs.
Why Are Fluorescent Lamps Banned From The Landfill?
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, one of the most hazardous substances in our homes. When the fluorescent lamps are put in a landfill the glass breaks and the mercury is released. The mercury is usually becomes part of leachate, the liquid that washes out of the bottom of the landfill. Landfills are designed with leachate collection systems. However, these systems can fail and the mercury containing leachate can leak into our groundwater. When the collection system works properly, the leachate is pumped to a sewerage treatment plant. Unfortunately, these plants cannot remove mercury and it gets released into our waterways.
Should I Still Use Fluorescent Lamps?
Sure. Fluorescent lamps use less electricity and cut down on the mercury that is emitted from power plants. You can also choose to use LED bulbs, which also cuts electricity use and last quite long. Anything we can do to reduce emissions from power plants is very important.