Those corkscrew-shaped CFL bulbs use about a third of the power needed to light incandescent bulbs, so their cost-saving appeal to homes and businesses is obvious. But what happens when potentially toxic CFLs need to be replaced?Starting today, Home Depot will take them off your hands, for free. The home improvement retail colossus has announced "a national in-store, consumer compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb recycling program at all 1,973" of its stores.
The problem with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) is that unlike traditional light bulbs, they contain a tiny amount of mercury, and mercury vapors can be hazardous around the house or workplace, and toxic in a landfill.
The solution is not to stop using CFLs, it's to recycle them responsibly. "If every American switched out one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than 600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars," according to information provided by Home Depot.
For the 75% of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot, that's easy. And for customers of the world's largest furniture (and Swedish meatball) retailer -- IKEA-- it's easy, too. IKEA participates in a 'Free Take Back' program, whereby spent CFL bulbs may be placed in recycle bins located within the company's stores.
Businesses with large volumes of bulbs to recycle may consider Sylvania's mail-based RecyclePak program, which offers large volume pricing.
Maybe your business has more bulbs than it can reasonably mail? Or maybe you don't live near a Home Depot or an IKEA. What then? Find an alternate drop-off spot for your bulbs by using RecycleaBulb.com. Enter your ZIP code and you'll get a list of locations that will accept CFLs and other lighting materials, though not all are free.