"LOW" Mercury Does Not Mean
People often ask us where regulatory agencies and bulb manufacturers stand on the issue of recycling low-mercury lamps. For the answer, we went right to sources, and what they had to say may surprise you.
Most regulatory agencies -- including the Wisconsin DNR and Illinois EPA -- encourage companies to take a pro-recycling approach to managing spent lamps, regardless of their mercury content. Even manufacturers of low-mercury bulbs are on record supporting the recycling of all bulbs.
The Wisconsin DNR addresses this issue in its publication, The Waste-Less News. The May 1999 issue has an article entitled "What Should I Do with Non-Hazardous Lighting Waste?"
Recycling bulbs reduces the amount of toxic mercury in our landfills. Even low-mercury lamps contain mercury, and all mercury is toxic. So whether you dump 1,000 low-mercury bulbs or 400 old-style bulbs into a landfill, you've dumped the same amount of mercury -- it just took a little longer.
It's also an issue of liability. If you send low-mercury lamps to a landfill that is later declared an EPA Superfund site, you are liable for the toxins you contribute, no matter how small. And the burden of proof is on you, not the manufacturer of the bulb, or the person who sold it.
When you consider the alternatives, not only is recycling the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. Just ask the DNR, the EPA, and the low-mercury lamp manufacturers.