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    Recycling CFLs is Finally Easy to Do!

    Home_depot If you like the idea of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs but worry about the mercury they contain, now you can worry a lot less. The Home Depot is selling bulbs that have cut the amount of mercury most bulbs contain in half. And when you’re finished with the bulbs, you can recycle them – along with any other CFLs you have – at any of the company’s 1,973 stores.

    Collection_of_cfb Simply bring in your expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will be handled by an environmental management company that will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.

    “With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs,” said the company’s Ron Jarvis, senior vice president, Environmental Innovation.

    What’s the appeal of CFLs? They  use up to 75 percent less energy, last longer and cost less over time than incandescent bulbs. The average household can reduce its energy bills by $12 to $20 a month by using CFLs. The bulbs were once accused of emitting a harsh, glaring light. But many bulbs generate a softer, yellower light now, increasing the appeal of using them for any room in the house.

    In addition to recycling CFLs, The Home Depot plans to introduce more dimmable compact fluorescents within the year. Home Depot’s bulbs contain 2.3 to 3.5 milligrams of mercury, which is below the National Electrical Manufacturers Association recommendation of 5 milligrams or fewer. It is a small amount, equivalent to the volume of the steel ball in the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, home thermostats contain about 1,000 times more mercury than the common CFL.

    The company says it sold more than 75 million CFL’s in 2007, saving Americans approximately $4.8 billion in energy costs and preventing 51.8 billon pounds in climate-changing greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere over the life of the bulbs.

    The Home Depot is not only encouraging consumers to change their light bulbs. It’s doing the same in its own stores. The company expects to save $16 million in annual energy costs by switching all of its U.S. Light Fixture Showrooms to CFLs by the fall of 2008.

    Home_depot_ecoearthday The CFL recycling program is an extension of The Home Depot's Eco Options program. Eco Options, launched in April 2007, is a classification that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment. 

    Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an easy change consumers can make to reduce energy use at home. According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR(R) program, if every American switched one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars.

    NOTE:  Consumers can also recycle CFLs at any IKEA store.

    Thumb_green Thumbs up to both Home Depot and Ikea!


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    Leviton makes a great CFL dimmer that actually work. The lights don't flicker like they do with many CFL dimmers.

    Diane MacEachern

    You're very welcome!


    I feel that CFL light bulbs are a waste of money. They do not last longer than regular light bulbs. Mine have burnt out quicker if not at the same rate the incandescent bulbs do. I have also notice that the base of the CFL light bulb looks like it can be a possible fire hazard. When I have changed the bulbs after burning out the base looks as if was burning so hot it was melting.
    These bulbs are made with mercury, a poison to our body, how environmentally friendly can that be?
    I hope incandescent will still be made I'm going back to buying them. I never had to worry about them being a fire hazard.

    Diane MacEachern

    I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience using CFLs. One of the characteristics of CFLS is that they don't get hot at all, so I wonder, if your bulb got hot, whether it was really a CFL. Also, the bulbs contain a minuscule amount of mercury, so they're not really a big source of contamination. In fact, most mercury in our atmosphere comes from burning coal, and incandescent bulbs require much more coal to be burned than CFLs, so most research shows that incandescents actually contribute more mercury to the atmosphere. I still strongly recommend people use CFLs.


    I totally agree with Luz about faster burn-out of CFLs. I began using a permanent marker to record the install date and found bulbs burning out in 3-6 months to be common. It's rare for one to last a year. We also have "browned" base examples of these bulbs.
    I've had several regular 60-watt clear bulbs in sconces which have been turned on/off dozens of times/day since 1991 that lasted 19 years...
    Having read of CFLs breaking and seriously contaminating a room, I'd like to know how much a problem this is with what's currently on the market. What brands are more reliable?

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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