How to Recycle and Dispose of Used UV Bulbs

UV light bulbs (professionally called UV lamps) are commonly used within the home for water treatment and disinfection, home tanning beds, reptile care, and more. In fact, it’s likely you have a UV light bulb in your home right now.

However, many people don’t realize that UV bulbs contain mercury. When electric current passes through the gas, the mercury generates ultraviolet (UV) light. While mercury is necessary for UV bulbs to function properly, this makes their waste potentially dangerous. As a result, it’s important to dispose of UV bulbs properly.

Many states in the U.S. now require citizens to recycle UV light bulbs. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the following U.S. states require UV bulbs to be recycled upon use: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington. Even if you don’t currently live in one of these states, the most eco-friendly choice is to recycle these bulbs.

Depending on where you live, several hardware stores may offer programs that allow you to drop off used UV bulbs at their store locations. Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware all have programs implemented to assist customers. Be sure to call ahead, though, as many locations do not offer these services and a drive there to find out wastes precious resources.

Another option is to purchase a mail-back kit. Though this involves an added expenditure, mailing the bulbs directly to the manufacturer once they’re used is the most direct way to deliver the bulbs to where they’ll ultimately be reused. The postage is covered in the cost of the kit, so the total cost to you isn’t as high as it may seem.

The best option for recycling UV bulbs is to locate the nearest recycling facility in your area. As more and more families in America become educated on the proper disposal of UV and fluorescent bulbs, more and more options and facilities exist for them to choose from. Earth911 offers a complimentary search engine where you can find the nearest recycling solution to your home.

If you can’t find a location near you to recycle your UV bulbs and have no recourse, you may seal the bulb in a plastic bag and dispose of it in your regular trash if doing so isn’t illegal where you live. However, if it is, your last option is to find a hazardous household waste facility in your area. Mercury is dangerous – recycle UV light bulbs to protect our environment and to be eco-friendly.

Article Source: Pentair.

Viqua, probably the leading maker of residential UV equipment, states: “Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). This symbol indicates that you should not discard wasted electrical or electronic equipment (WEEE) in the trash. For proper disposal, contact your local recycling/reuse or hazardous waste center.” Viqua does not offer disposal if you send the lamp back to them, as the Pentair article suggests.  And one has to question the environmental advantage that would be gained by mailing a UV lamp to a Canadian manufacturer for disposal.  More from Viqua.

Viqua’s advice is pretty standard for products in this category: Check with your local authorities for disposal advice. Our experience with attempts at disposal of UV lamps through our local solid waste authorities is that there are provisions for large users, but if you have a single UV lamp to dispose of, that’s a problem no one every thought of before.

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