Proper Lamp Disposal
By Jim Eckman, PE, LEEP AP, LC, CBCP
SBM recently retrofit many of our T12 and T8 fluorescent lamps in our office with LED lamps. We used a Universal Fit LED lamp manufactured by Phillips. This retrofit lamp does not require the removal of the fixture ballast. While this approach does not save as much energy as an LED lamp retrofit that removes the fluorescent ballast, the initial cost is considerably less because we could do the work ourselves and did not need to hire a licensed electrician.
The challenge of this DIY project turned out to be how to properly dispose of the old fluorescent lamps! Because all fluorescent lamps contain mercury, they are considered hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in regular trash. When intact, the lamps are safe, but if the mercury is released, it forms a toxic vapor that can damage the nervous system and kidneys. All old fluorescent lamps should be taken to a hazardous waste facility that can safely and properly remove and recycle the mercury and other materials in the lamps.
After researching multiple sources, we found that the cost of proper disposal varies greatly depending on how many lamps you have and how you get the lamps to the hazardous waste facility. One popular approach is to purchase lamp disposal boxes with prepaid disposal and postage. This approach is rather expensive and can cost over $100 for a box of 30 lamps.
Some waste disposal companies will also take the lamps, but they have a minimum change that could be as much as $400. This option would be viable if you have a large quantity of lamps.
We contacted our friends at CAM, Inc. CAM built and manages many of the commercial buildings in our business park. They have used and recommended eCycle Solutions of Ohio. They are in North Canton and are only a few minutes from our office. We bundled our old lamps and delivered them to their facility. Their current disposal cost is 25 cents per foot. We had a total of 200 four-foot T12 and T8 lamps, so our cost was $200. Contact eCycle Solutions of Ohio at 234-209-9602 or ecycleohio.com.
The Ohio EPA recommends recycling all lamps, even from households and if they do not involve hazardous waste. We hope this information will help you properly dispose of this common item at a reasonable cost. If you have any questions, please contact at Jim Eckman at 330-526-2703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.