This may be a surprise, but many of the bulbs used for lighting a church facility contain toxic waste. And because of this, “spent bulbs need to be disposed of properly in accordance with local and state regulations,” says Vicki Mullin, marketing manager at Farmingdale, N.Y.’s Bulbtronics (www.bulbtronics.com).
“Fluorescent lamps (straight fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps—CFLs) are the most common lamp type referred to in discussions of lamp recycling, but high intensity discharge (HID) and other mercury-containing lamps often fall under the same regulations as fluorescents,” reports Jon Svensson, marketing director for Air Cycle Corp. in Lisle, Ill. “When lamps are sent to landfills, or especially when incineration is used as an alternative disposal method, mercury vapors are released into the environment. Mercury is highly toxic to the human nervous system and particularly poisonous to the kidneys. Once absorbed by the body, mercury is distributed by the blood to all tissues of the human body…. parental exposure to mercury can lead to a variety of health problems, including a severe form of cerebral palsy.”
Because of the health hazards, recycling of these bulbs is the proper disposal solution.
“Bulbtronics promotes a product called RecyclePak,” says Mullin, “which is a low-cost compliance solution by Veolia, the largest environmental services company in the world. One price includes everything you need, and you simply fill the container with spent bulbs or batteries, seal it, prepare it for shipping with the label that is included, call the 800 number to arrange for pick up, and afterward you are sent a certificate of compliance.”
Air Cycle has a few solutions for handling used-bulb waste. The company’s EasyPak containers allow shipment of intact bulbs, and also batteries, ballasts and electronic waste, to a recycling center. For larger quantities, Air Cycle has created a device called the Bulb Eater, a safe bulb-crushing device that reportedly reduces waste lamp storage space and lowers recycling costs by as much as 50%. Another option for large facilities is bulk pick up.
Since recycling regulations vary by state, Air Cycle recommends becoming familiar with regulatory concerns. The company offers a URL, www.aircycle.com/regulations, where church staff can find a state-by-state break down to help determine how a facility within a given state is regulated.