How to properly dispose of fluorescent bulbs

Fluorescents, including linear straight tubes, U-shaped, circular and compact fluorescents (the spiral type commonly used in homes).

  • Ultraviolet bulbs (often used to disinfect drinking water)
  • High-intensity discharge bulbs (HID). These bulbs are commonly used for outdoor lighting. HID bulbs include:
    • Mercury vapor
    • Metal halide
    • High pressure sodium

How to safely manage/dispose of your CFLs and tubes

Used lamps that are accumulated for recycling should be stored in packaging that minimizes lamp breakage. Used lamps may be stored in drums, boxes, or the cartons they originally came in. The packaging must remain closed unless lamps are being added or removed. Any broken lamps must be stored separately in a sealed container.

Used lamps should be stored and handled in a way that prevents breakage. Any releases to the environment from broken lamps must be contained immediately and handled properly. Learn the best way to clean up a broken CFL or other mercury-containing bulb.

How to safely cleanup broken bulbs

Before cleanup

  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  • Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
    • stiff paper or cardboard;
    • sticky tape;
    • damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
    • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During cleanup

  • Do not vacuum. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
  • Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After cleanup

  • Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
  • Take the sealed container to Guelph’s Household Hazardous Waste Depot or another local recycling center (e.g. Canadian Tire Store, Rona Store) for recycling.
  • If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

Cleanup steps for carpeting or rugs

  1. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)
  2. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  3. Vacuuming of carpeting or rugs during cleanup is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. [NOTE: It is possible that vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor, although available information on this problem is limited.] If vacuuming is needed to ensure removal of all broken glass, keep the following tips in mind:
    • Keep a window or door to the outdoors open;
    • Vacuum the area where the bulb was broken using the vacuum hose, if available, and
    • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and seal the bag/vacuum debris, and any materials used to clean the vacuum, in a plastic bag.
  4. Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.