Ballast Recycling

Did you know? All fluorescent lamps require a ballast or capacitor to operate properly and when recycling light fixtures, it is critically important to properly handle and dispose of the lighting ballasts to prevent environmental contamination.[1]

A lighting ballast is literally the key to get a light fixture to work. This is because fluorescent bulbs have negative resistance meaning they are unable to regulate the amount of current that passes through them. Therefore, a ballast is used to control current flow, otherwise the light could fail.[2]

There are a couple types of ballasts that are still in use today at LIU Post, including magnetic and electronic. Magnetic ballasts are still in use, but are no longer being installed on campus. In fact, all new light fixtures and ballast replacements are now of an electronic type.

The older magnetic ballasts could be PCB or non-PCB. However, it is rare to find any PCB ballasts on campus anymore. Most if not all of them have been removed and properly disposed of. The non-PCB ballasts are still collected and disposed of through the use of Veolia Environmental Services.  However, the newer electronic ballasts are collected and recycled through our e-waste program.

In total, for FY2012, LIU Post recycled 9,012 pounds of ballasts.

Surprisingly, a typical ballast contains a variety of materials like wood, rubber paper, wire, cases, gauges, steel, and ceramic insulators. At Veolia, many of these components get recycled. For example, after the components are separated according to type, some of them are soaked for 18 hours in a performance based organic decontamination fluid.[3]

The carcass and core of the ballast will contain metals like steel, aluminum, and copper, all which are recyclable. The wood, rubber, and paper can be recycled provided it is in good condition. And the ceramics from the insulators can be recycled in addition to the metal wire and cases.

Not only do we protect the environment by doing this, but we also ensure that the materials found in ballasts continue on as a new product.


[1] From Total Reclaim Environmental Services                                                             http://www.totalreclaim.com/ballasts.html

[2] “What is a Lighting Ballast?”                                                                                             http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-lighting-ballast.htm

[3] According to Veolia Environmental Services

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