How do I properly dispose of burned-out CFLs?

Johnson County residents and the residents of Kalona and Riverside may properly dispose of CFLs at the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center at no charge during regular business hours.

Other household hazardous waste may be disposed of by appointment. There is no cost for residents; businesses may call 319-356-5185 for more information.

The landfill also works with partners through our Adopt-A-Bin program. You may drop off your CFL bulbs at the following locations for disposal. (Only CFLs, please, not tubes.):

  • ReStore, 2401 Scott Blvd. SE, Iowa City (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily)
  • City Electric Supply, 315 East Prentiss St., Iowa City
  • Ace Hardware, 1558 Mall Drive, Iowa City
  • Ace Hardware, 600 N. Dodge Street, Iowa City
  • Tiffin City Hall, 300 Railroad Street
  • Riverside City Hall, 21 East 1st Street
  • Lone Tree City Hall, 123 Devoe Street
  • North Liberty City Hall, 3 Quail Creek Circle
  • North Liberty Recreation Center, 520 W. Cherry Street

Lowe's Home Improvement in Coralville also has a CFL bulb recycling program. Call 319-545-8300 for more information.

Why use CFL bulbs?

An ENERGY STAR Qualified CFL produces about 75 percent less heat, so it's safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.

If every American home replaced just one light with a light that's earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

How do I get the most from my CFLs?

Source: Energy Star

  1. Do the twist: Screw in your CFL by holding the ballast (the white plastic part), NOT the glass tubing.
  2. Don’t flip too fast: You’ll maximize the lifetime savings and effectiveness of your CFLs by keeping them on for 15 minutes or more at a time.
  3. Choose 3 for 3: Only use bulbs labeled as three-way on three-way sockets.
  4. Don’t dim a non-dimmable: Only use bulbs labeled as dimmable on dimmer switches.
  5. Check your controls: Most photocells, motion sensors and electric timers are not designed to work with CFLs. Always check with the manufacturer of the control for compatibility.
  6. Give them air: CFLs are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so place your CFLs in open fixtures indoors. Using them in enclosed fixtures indoors can create a hot environment that reduces the lifetime of your bulbs. Note that covered reflectors are best used in recessed cans.
  7. Protect them outside: Protect bulbs from the elements by placing them inside enclosed fixtures outdoors. For colder climates, look at the packaging for optimal operating temperatures.

How should I clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?

Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Before clean-up, air out the room
  • Have people and pets leave the room and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning.
  1. Clean-up steps for hard surfaces
  • Carefully scoop up glass fragments and power using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape such as duct tape to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do NOT use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
  1. Clean-up steps for carpeting or rug:
  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape such as duct tape to pick up any remaining small glass pieces and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
  1. Clean-up steps for clothing, bedding, etc.
  • If clothing or bedding materials come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you clean up the broken CFL, as long as the clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towers or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.
  1. Disposal of clean-up materials
  • Immediately place all clean-up materials in a closed container such as a garbage bag or Rubbermaid container.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags container clean-up materials.
  • Make an appointment at the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility to properly dispose of the materials.
  1. Future cleaning of carpeting or rug: air out the room during and after vacuuming.
  • The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before you vacuum.
  • Keep the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

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