Lamp Recycling: Lightening the Load

Campus Facility Maintenance

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As most university maintenance personnel and electricians already know, nearly all lamps are considered hazardous waste and spent bulbs can no longer be tossed into dumpsters. Due to the mercury content in fluorescent, mercury vapor and other lamps and lamp fragments, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends recycling of lamps and lamp components as the proper method of disposal.

Besides federal regulations, institutions must also follow all applicable state and local regulations. For example, some states prohibit even the newer non-hazardous low-mercury lamps from being disposed of in solid waste landfills. To eliminate the liability and risk of fines due to improper disposal, universities must recycle their lamps.

"Like most universities, we made the process of bulb recycling a lot more complicated than was necessary," admits Keith Irvine, electrical supervisor at Washington & Lee University, a liberal arts college located in Lexington, Virginia. "We carefully placed all the bulbs in boxes and stored them, which took up a lot of room. When the recycling company came, we then carried the boxes out to the truck. While boxing, storing and carrying the bulbs, we continually worried about breakage."

Basically, two options exist for proper lamp disposal. One option is to keep spent lamps intact prior to pick up. This method requires considerable handling of the lamps, which drives up labor costs and wastes valuable storage space. The other option is to use a machine that safely crushes the lamps and stores the pulverized pieces in a drum, which is then picked up by a certified recycler.

Lamp Recycling Lamp with the Bulb Eater®

bulb eater finalFor facilities that generate large quantities of lamps, the Bulb Eater® can save up to 20 hours of labor per 1,000 lamps and up to 80% in storage space over boxing intact lamps for pickup, reducing overall lamp recycling costs by up to 50%. Learn more » Bulb Eater® lamp crusher