CFL Recycling and Disposal

Why use an ENERGY STAR™ qualified compact fluorescent light bulb?

  • CFLs use up to 75% less electricity
  • CFLs last up to 10 times longer
  • CFLs produce 75% less heat, reducing home cooling demands, resulting in higher energy savings.

While ENERGY STAR™ qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, their use creates a net reduction of mercury emissions to our environment, as compared to using incandescent lighting. Since
they use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs, less power from coal-fired plants is required, resulting in reduced mercury emissions.

What is mercury?
Mercury is an element (Hg) found naturally in the environment, including the air, soil and water. It is found in many rocks including coal. When coal is burned, mercury is released into the environment. Coal-burning power plants are the largest human-caused source of mercury emissions to the air in the United States, accounting for over 40 percent of all domestic human-caused mercury emissions. Mercury in the air eventually settles into water where it can transform into methyl mercury and build up in fish.

The amount of mercury in a CFL bulb is less than 5 milligrams and is significantly smaller than a dime in size.

Why is it important to recycle CFLs?
Because mercury is a necessary component in all compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), including ENERGY STAR™ qualified light bulbs, the bulbs should be handled responsibly and be recycled. Information about recycling can be found at the following websites:

Where can I recycle a CFL in Chicago?
1. You can take used CFLs to the
household chemicals and computer recycling Facility located at 1150 N. North Branch.
2. You can also take them to any home depot. Visit to find a store near you.


What to do if a CFL bulb or fluorescent tube light bulb breaks in your home:

Before cleanup 

  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. 
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.

During cleanup

  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After cleanup

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC system shut off.

More information on the clean up guidance:

More information on CFLs:

Supporting Information Facts

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