Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or (CFLs) are highly efficient. They use 75 percent less energy and on average last 7 to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. By requiring less energy, these bulbs reduce the amount of pollution from energy production, which includes the emission of mercury from coal combustion. Because these bulbs contain small amounts of mercury they need to be handled differently than regular, incandescent light bulbs.
Mercury-added bulbs manufactured after November 30, 2003 are labeled to read "Contains Mercury" or "Hg" within a circle on the lamp to signify that they must be handled with caution.
The following types of bulbs contain mercury:
Bulb Storage and Handling
There is currently no Utah State or federal law requiring that mercury containing bulbs be recycled. Because these bulbs can break and seep mercury into the ground, which can pollute groundwater, we encourage residents to recycle them. If there are no facilities in your area that accept used bulbs, they can be disposed of in the garbage, however this should be a last resort if possible.
If your local waste management agency offers no other disposal options except your household garbage, place the CFL in a plastic bag and seal it before putting it in the trash. If your waste agency incinerates its garbage, you should search a wider geographic area for proper disposal options. Never send a CFL or other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.
Many health departments have special collection points within their communities that accept used CFL bulbs. In addition, your local landfill may also be aware of other collection points. To contact your health department or landfill please click the links below.
If you live in Salt Lake County, both the Salt Lake City and County library systems have drop off boxes for used bulbs. For locations, hours, and other information click here.
Additional Resources for CFL disposal:
Many retailers are currently exploring take-back programs and it is our hope that by the time your CFL needs to be replaced, a retailer program will be in place. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs have a two-year warranty. If the bulb fails within the warranty period, return it to your retailer.
If you have questions, please call the Utah Department of Environmental Quality Hotline at
For more information about mercury and ways you can minimize exposure risks please click the links below:
Revised January 19, 2010