CFL Recycling and Disposal


While compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) are an energy efficient lighting choice, they do contain a small amount of mercury, meaning they should be handled with care and disposed of properly. To help members properly dispose of burnt-out CFL bulbs, United Power offers free recycling of household CFLs. Members can bring in household shaped fluorescent bulbs to any of our office locations and United Power will recycle them for free. Due to environmental regulations and size restrictions of recycling containers, we cannot accept any broken, tube-shaped or flood style fluorescent lighting. Please read below to properly dispose of a broken CFL, and use the following resources to recycle bulbs larger than the compact household type.

Home Depot and Ace Hardware stores also offer free recycling of compact fluorescent light bulbs. Please check with your local store on program specifics. Additionally, Earth 911 and Lamp Recycle offer online search tools to help you find a local recycling facility.

Some counties and municipalities in Colorado conduct annual collections of household hazardous wastes, while others have permanent collection facilities or sponsor curbside pickup programs. Find more information about recycling options in your area from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


Cleaning Up a Broken CFL

  1. Open a window and leave the room (restrict access) for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner.
    • Wear disposable rubber gloves, if available (do not use your bare hands).
    • Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard.
    • Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe.
    • Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.
  3. Place all clean up materials in a plastic bag and seal it. It is recommended that you place these materials in two plastic bags before disposal. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.
  4. The first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, as well as the cleaning materials, in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.
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