Fluorescent & Other Mercury-Added Bulbs

NOTICE: restriction on sale of mercury-containing lightbulbs. Mercury is highly toxic and energy-efficient alternatives are widely available. The following fluorescent lamps (lightbulbs) shall not be sold, offered for sale, or delivered to a retailer for subsequent sale in the state of Vermont.

 three screw-based compact fluorescent and one linear fluorescent lamp.February 17, 2023 – Restriction on sale of screw-based, mercury-containing, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).  Learn more in the Agency determination and comments.

January 1, 2024  Act No. 120. This act prohibits the sale or distribution in the State of four-foot general purpose, low pressure, mercury-containing linear fluorescent lamps (tubes).

For more information contact karen.knaebel@vermont.gov

Mercury-Containing Light Bulbs Must Be Recycled

To find a collection site near you, enter your zip-code at lamprecycle.org

Mercury Elemental Symbol "Hg"

Any mercury-containing bulb, regardless of the amount of mercury, cannot be discarded in the trash. Mercury-containing light bulbs manufactured after November 30, 2003 will be labeled, on the bulb itself, with "Contains Mercury" or the symbol "Hg" within a circle (Hg is the scientific symbol for mercury on the periodic table of elements). 

Do not crush mercury-added bulbs. Bulbs should be stored in ways that avoid breakage as crushing releases mercury vapors that may pose health and environmental risks. Broken bulbs are hazardous waste.

The following types of bulbs contain mercury:

  • Fluorescent, compact fluorescent, black lights
  • High intensity discharge bulbs (HID). These bulbs are commonly used in security, outdoor and warehouse lighting. HID lighting is becoming popular for indoor use in commercial settings. The following are HID bulbs: mercury vapor, metal halide, high pressure sodium
  • HID lighting is also used in vehicle headlamps. HID headlamps can be identified by their characteristic bluish-white tint when lit.
  • Ultraviolet bulbs
  • Neon bulbs

How to Recycle Mercury-Containing Light Bulbs 

Vermont's Lamp Law established a manufacturer-funded collection and recycling program for general purpose mercury-containing bulbs.

Vermont residents, small businesses, and institutions (such as schools) can recycle certain mercury-containing bulbs for free at municipal and retail locations across the state. To find a collector near you, enter your zip-code at lamprecycle.org.

A photo of three mercury-containing light bulbs

 

FREE RECYCLING:

UNLIMITED - Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL)
MAMIMUM OF 10 PER VISIT – 2' to 8’ fluorescent tubes, U-tubes, circular, HID, and mercury vapor bulbs

 

If you have larger quantities of non-CFL bulbs or mercury-containing bulbs that are not included in the free recycling program, check with your local municipality or solid waste district for recycling options.

Businesses who handle larger volumes of bulbs from change-outs or retrofits can contact a local electrical wholesaler who offers bulb recycling to their customers or a commercial lamp recycler (a business that collects and recycles mercury, glass, and metal components). If it is not possible to use any of the previous options, bulbs should be handled by a licensed hazardous waste transporter.

Learn more about storing, properly recycling, and cleaning up breakages of mercury-containing lightbulbs in this FACT SHEET.

Lamprecycle.org maintains a list of current manufacturers with approved collection plans.  

Agency of Natural Resources
Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Management and Prevention Division

Davis Building - 1st Floor
One National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05620-3704
802-828-1138