CFL – unscrew with care

great technology, dispose with care

Posted by Katrin on November 07, 2007


I heard all the hype and was excited about the new light bulb technology that was being promoted throughout the land.  These new compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than regular light bulbs! Yahoo, an easy win!  Switching to CF bulbs, combined with some diligent turning off un-needed lights and appliances reduces the  demand for our dirty electricity.  Since much of our electricity is produced by coal burning power plants (that emit greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and cause asthma), anything that can help us conserve power is good news.  We are improving our environment through simple steps to reduce demand for electricity.

It was only after changing out nearly all of our light bulbs that I heard these bulbs contain mercury and the toxic metal will leak out if you break the bulb. Which means that these bulbs require special disposal.  Nowhere in these big advertisements did they mention that CF bulbs cannot go into the garbage.

The City of Toronto has set up the following methods for disposal:

1. Community Environment Day (April – September)

2. Drop off the fluorescent tubes and compact bulbs at the Dump or call the Toxic Taxi  if you have 50 Liters of hazardous waste (maybe getting the neighbours in on it would help)

3. Ikea is taking back and recycling the bulbs they have sold customers. Go Ikea!  Rona seems to be the only other company that is working toward a corporate initiative to take back the bulbs.

By the time these long lasting bulbs burn out I’m sure disposal will be made easier, especially as we get closer to 2012 when Ontario will no longer sell any other type of light bulb.

David Suzuki reminds us that coal fired power plants are the largest sources of mercury in our environment today, so by reducing our dependence on them through use of these bulbs we are still ahead.

Now if only we could get offices to turn off the lights when no one is working …

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