Recycling Containers Find Home in Pennsylvania

To help spur the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFSs) and make it easier for the public to recycle the swirly tubed bulbs, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is providing receptacles to municipalities, small businesses, and community organizations.

"If all of the households in Pennsylvania changed just one incandescent light bulb to an ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL, consumers could save $25.5 million annually on household electric bills and prevent nearly 382 millions pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year," said McGinty. "That is the power of energy efficiency, and we need to encourage people to take advantage of that power by adopting these safe and readily available technologies as soon as possible.

The department is partnering with 43 counties, townships, environmental groups, and small businesses statewide in setting up CFL collection programs.

More than 110 containers were purchased from Pennsylvania firms AERC Recycling and Bethlehem Apparatus Company. Both companies shipped the receptacles directly to the participants for use in conjunction with Earth Day and other hazardous household waste collection events.

The AERC containers will hold 100 to 150 bulbs, and the Bethlehem Apparatus containers will hold slightly less than 100.

Once the containers are filled, participants will ship the receptacles back to AERC or Bethlehem Apparatus for the physical recycling.

To recycle a bulb, a consumer simply needs to hand it over to a trained employee, who slides it into the container.

Though CFLs cost more, the energy savings pay back the higher upfront costs in as little as four months. Over its entire life cycle, each CFL can save a consumer more than $60.

The average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs; replacing that number of 75-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs would save more than $150 per year. CFLs also last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.

The fact sheets will also address the issue of mercury in CFLs. Small amounts of mercury are necessary components of compact fluorescent light bulbs and all types of fluorescent lights, including those that have been safely used in homes, offices, and commercial and retail establishments for years. CFLs contain an average of 5 milligrams of mercury, or about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.

Residents can also recycle CFLs at household hazardous waste collection events in their communities. DEP reimburses organizers 50 percent of the cost for holding collection events, where residents can safely recycle potentially hazardous wastes, such as pesticides, cleaners and rechargeable batteries.

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