Lamp Recycling

Did you know? Each year, an estimated 600 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of in U.S. landfills amounting to 30,000 pounds of mercury waste.[1]

In today’s modern world, lights are constantly in use. And when a light burns out, it’s imperative that it gets responsibly recycled.

Lamps, also referred to as “universal waste lamps,” are defined as the bulb or tube portions of an electric lighting device. Examples of common universal waste electric lamps include, but are not limited to, fluorescent, high intensity discharge, neon, mercury vapor, high pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps.[2]

LIU Post is committed to recycling every single spent lamp generated on campus. It is against the law to improperly dispose of mercury-containing lamps in New York State. At LIU Post, we take every measure necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Whenever a light fixture is spent, members of our Facilities Services staff will safely transport it to a central storage location where it will later be shipped for recycling.

In FY2012, LIU Post recycled 7,518 pounds of lamps with Veolia Environmental Services. Operating four fully-permitted lamp recycling and universal waste recycling facilities in the United States, Veolia recovers virtually 100% of each lamp by using an advanced, automated, dry-separation process to separate lamp waste into glass, metals and mercury-contaminated phosphor powder.[3]

Through their process:[4]

  • 96% of the total bulb weight is recovered as glass for the production of new glass.
  • 2% is recovered as aluminum and sold as scrap metal.
  • Less than 2% is phosphor powder which is retorted or distilled by Veolia to recover hazardous mercury.
  • And less than 1% is mercury which is recovered for refining.

So, not only does recycling lamps create a better environment, but it creates another market within the recycling industry. Spent lamps are another growing commodity and it is essential that we recycle them in order to reduce the amount of contaminants that get released into the environment.

As always, recycling provides yet another bright idea!


[1] From Air Cycle Corporation                     http://www.aircycle.com/recycling/why-recycle/

[2] As defined in Title 40 – Protection of Environment, Section 273.9 of Code of Federal Regulations http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title40-vol28/xml/CFR-2012-title40-vol28-sec273-9.xml

[4] Breakdown of bulb weights provided by Veolia Environmental Services http://www.veoliaes.com/en/services/enterprise/recycling/lighting.html

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