Free collection sites around state keep toxic mercury out of landfills
OLYMPIA – Washington residents can now recycle fluorescent lights and other mercury-containing lights for free at 130 sites throughout the state, with more being added in the months ahead.
LightRecycle Washington collection sites will take traditional fluorescent tubes (including straight, curved and circular tubes), the twisty compact fluorescent lights and high intensity discharge lights, which are commonly used in outdoor lighting fixtures. The program does not accept lighting fixtures or ballasts.
Both individuals and businesses can drop off lights for recycling, although there is a limit of 10 lights per day. Visit www.lightrecyclewa.org to find a collection site near you.
“Fluorescent lights are long-lasting and energy efficient, but they contain small amounts of toxic mercury, which needs to be recycled or properly disposed of,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources program. “With the launch of LightRecycle Washington, we’re making it easier to comply with the law and protect the environment.”
Since 2010, it has been illegal in Washington to dispose of mercury-containing lights in the regular garbage. This new program, funded by a 25-cent environmental handling charge on each new mercury-containing light sold at retail, makes it simple to recycle old lights.
EcoLights Northwest, located in Seattle, is the recycling company that will process the lights collected by LightRecycle Washington. After mercury-containing lights are collected, EcoLights breaks them down and then recyclable components, including mercury, are refined and reused.
"We started recycling lights back in 1996,” said Craig Lorch, co-owner of EcoLights, “but until now, many residents and small businesses have had a difficult time finding a convenient and inexpensive way to recycle fluorescent lights. This program will make it easy to recycle mercury-containing lights anywhere in Washington state."
LightRecycle Washington is run by the nonprofit PCA Product Stewardship Inc., working with retailers, lighting manufacturers, municipal waste facilities and Ecology.