City of
Madison

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 bulbs and tubes back to any retail store that sells them . Madison and Dane County ordinances require any store that sells fluorescent bulbs and tubes to take them back for recycling from their customers.

Some stores may need to charge a fee for this service, so you may want to call ahead.

You can also take back old fluorescents lamp recycling firms in the Madison area. They may also charge a fee for recycling your old bulbs.

Why are fluorescents prohibited from the recycling cart?

Workers at the recycling facility sort through the material by hand in order for all of our paper and cans to be recycled. Placing bulbs and tubes into the recycling exposes these workers to mercury when the bulbs break.

 

Why were 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. Now, landfills are designed with leachate collection systems. However, these systems can fail and the mercury containing leachate can leak into our groundwater. We'd much rather be safe than sorry.  Also consider that when leachate collection systems work, 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.

Keep in mind that you can also choose to use LED bulbs, which also cuts electricity use, last for a long time, and are easier to dispose.