Home Depot will create the largest network of compact fluorescent light bulb recycling centers at its 1,973 U.S. stores, the New York Times reports today.
Although CFLs have many environmental benefits, they do contain a small amount of mercury, and so need to be disposed of properly.
CFLs contain up to 5 milligrams of mercury, which is quite a small amount; compare that to older home thermostats and mercury fever thermometers, which contain from 500 to 3,000 milligrams. But given that nearly 300 million CFLs were sold in the U.S. in 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal, it can still be a concern.
Home Depot's program will make it easier for more people to recycle, since there's a Home Depot within 10 miles of 75% of the American population, according to a Home Depot official quoted in the Times.
Disposing of used CFLs might seem like a bit of a pain, especially if you have to pay, but note that the recycling cost amounts to just about 1% of the total amount of money you'll spend on a bulb in its lifetime, since energy use is the lion's share. Also note that if you do have a broken bulb, don't handle it with bare hands. Pick up the fragments with a paper towel, seal in a plastic bag, and take to a recycling center. Ventilate the room thoroughly to push out any mercury vapor. (Click here for the EPA's safe-cleanup tips.)
View 10 great new CFLs to fit any fixture, and lifestyle, here.
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