Light. It is critical to the completion of important business tasks. Your commercial space relies on many different types of light fixtures to illuminate employee workstations and ensure the safety of your vendors and customers.

Some of the most popular types of lighting found in commercial spaces are overhead lights and lamps. As beneficial as these fixtures may be, they can pose a real logistics challenge when they reach the end of their lifecycle.

Special handling is required to dispose of lamps properly. Don’t just toss your obsolete light bulbs into the trash; work with a professional recycling company to ensure unwanted lamps are disposed of correctly.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Modern companies often worry about their energy consumption. Your company may switch to energy efficient light sources to help reduce operating costs and alleviate your dependence on energy resources. Compact fluorescent lamps, linear fluorescent lamps, and high-intensity discharge lamps are a few of the energy efficient light sources that might be installed throughout your commercial space.

Fluorescent lamps only need about 25 to 35 percent of the energy consumed by incandescent lamps to produce the same amount of light. In order to achieve this high level of efficiency, fluorescent bulbs are constructed with the use of mercury.

The electricity that is fed into a fluorescent bulb converts mercury particles within the lamp into a gas. Mercury atoms emit ultraviolet photons when in their gas form, and these photons become visible light when they hit the phosphor coating on the interior of the bulb. Mercury is the only element that can provide the high level of efficiency that fluorescent bulbs provide.

Dangers of Mercury Exposure

The amount of mercury contained within a fluorescent bulb is minimal, but exposure to mercury can pose a serious risk to the health of your employees and the environment. Inhalation of mercury vapors can have a negative effect on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. Certain neurological and behavioral disorders can also develop as a result of exposure to mercury.

The proper handling of fluorescent lamps is critical in protecting your employees, customers, and vendors from the harmful effects of mercury exposure. Measures should be taken to handle all lamps with care to avoid breakage. Any broken lamps should only be handled by employees fitted with protective masks and gloves to minimize mercury exposure.

Many landfills have policies that prohibit the disposal of fluorescent lamps. The mercury contained within these lamps could leach out into the surrounding soil and water supply, causing serious contamination. Recycling centers have the training and equipment required to handle the disposal of fluorescent bulbs properly.

Recycling Fluorescent Lamps

When fluorescent bulbs are recycled properly, their individual elements can be transformed into other consumer products. A specialized machine will extract all trace amounts of mercury, including the atoms attached to the phosphorus coating, from the glass tube.

Once all mercury is removed, the aluminum caps and glass are broken down. The mercury extracted from the fluorescent lamps is used to produce new bulbs or thermostats. The aluminum is recycled as scrap metal, and the glass tubes are downcycled into products like concrete or ceramic tiles.

By partnering with a recycling center to dispose of your energy efficient lamps, you can prevent environmental contamination, eliminate the potential for exposure to mercury vapors, and contribute to the creation of new consumer products made from recycled glass.

Cleanlites Recycling offers a comprehensive service for the recycling of all your commercial lamps, bulbs, and lights. Contact us to learn more about lamp recycling and how your company can benefit from the recycling process in the future.