Many people in Chicago and Illinois ask the question why is light bulb recycling necessary?

Most people are not aware of the fact that most of the bulbs used like Fluorescent bulbs, High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and other lamps contain mercury. When people discard their lamps, these lamps break up and the mercury in the lamps will leak out. The leaked mercury will then contaminate the soil and water. This mercury in the water is then ingested by the fish, which people eat. Consuming the fish containing mercury causes a number of chronic ailments, adversely affecting the health of a large number of people and other flora and fauna.

light bulb recycling

Environmental protection

Even a small amount of mercury can cause massive damage, for example, just 15 g of mercury is sufficient to pollute a small lake. Recognizing the fact that removing the mercury from any area is extremely difficult after it is polluted, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made it mandatory for businesses and organizations which generate a lot of lamp waste, to make provisions for Fluorescent bulb recycling and Ballast recycling. These lamps are classified as Universal Waste. This ensures that any toxic metals and chemicals in the bulbs are processed safely and do not pollute the environment. Only households are exempted since they do not generate much waste.

lamp recycling


The lamp recycling service includes collecting and hauling the lamp and ballast waste, which have been classified as universal waste from the business premises to the recycling facility. The facility is complying with the EPA standards for waste disposal and all types of bulbs are recycled. The facilities use the latest technology and equipment to recycle the bulbs. All the bulbs which are recycled are traceable, and a certificate that the bulb has been recycled can be provided to the business which generated the waste, for compliance purposes.

Recycling facilities

The Light bulb recycling facilities have been constructed to comply with IEPA norms in developing the lamp management facilities, and include

  • crushing equipment to crush the light bulbs into smaller pieces
  • separating equipment to separate the mercury-containing components, glass and other parts using sealed drum-type turning equipment
  • latest technology process equipment for retorting
  • separation of mercury from the mercury phosphor compound used in lamps
  • mercury extraction using mercury distillation equipment to extract 99.99% of the mercury, while ensuring that the mercury fumes do not cause any pollution
  • the mercury recycling equipment includes a 55-gallon drum with a filtering system with an activated carbon filter and three stages.

Waste handling

After the mercury has been extracted from all the waste which is generated, the waste is efficiently utilized so that it does not cause any pollution. Almost 99% of the components and materials like aluminum, copper, phosphor powder, are reused for the manufacture of bulbs in the future. The crushed glass is also recycled and used for making other products. Recycling ensures that the mercury in the lamps does not pollute the environment, it is sold to companies that use mercury as a raw material for making their gadgets and other products. Hence all the waste generated is utilized efficiently if a specialized lamp recycling company is used.


If the recycling facility is not certified and does not follow the environmental safety guidelines, it can cause pollution. Hence waste generators in Chicago and Illinois should ensure that the recycling facility should have the following

  • should be certified by the Illinois EPA (IEPA) that it complies with its requirement
  • will provide certification that the waste lamps are recycled properly to the waste generator
  • the facility should be certified for hazardous waste management by the relevant local authority
  • should have liability pollution insurance for safety purchases

Other details

The cost for recycling of lamps depends to some extent on the number of lamps which are being recycled, with bulk discounts being offered to organizations who have a larger number of lamps for disposal. They can provide packaging and labels for the lamps which are being disposed of, and also arrange to have them safely transported.

Typically a lamp will be recycled within a day of being received. Engineering services are offered for businesses that have specialized requirements. Training seminars can also be held. Thus using a certified recycling facility like Chicago Lamp Recycling ensures that all Universal Lamp waste is handled in an eco-friendly manner.

Florescent bulb recycling