Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Lamp Recycling and Disposal



Fluorescent, high intensity discharge, metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and neon lamps and their ballasts contain PCBs, mercury, and other toxic chemicals. In order to properly comply with federal and state regulations, these materials must be disposed of properly. This reference guide will point you toward information sources that will help you meet the disposal requirements for these items.

The reference guide is not exhaustive. It includes information that will help you continue research at your local library.

[Books] [Fact Sheets] [State Information] [Directories] [Web Sites]


Some helpful Library of Congress Subject Headings for locating books on this topic include:

The Dewey Decimal classification number for lighting is 621.32. Vapor (Luminous-tube) lighting is classed in 621.327. Specific types of vapor lighting are classed as follows:

Fluorescent Lamps and the Environment (Rosslyn, VA : National Electrical Manufacturers Association, 2001? -- online at
Covers mercury use, environmental benefits, and disposal requirements.

Lighting (From the Energy Star Building Manual. Washington, DC : U.S. EPA Energy Star Program, 2001 -- online at
The last section of this chapter contains information about disposal options.

Lighting Waste Disposal (Washington, DC : U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation, 1998 -- online at [EPA 430 B-95 004].
Although somewhat dated, provides a good overview of how to dispose of lamps and ballasts.

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Fact Sheets

For links to state fact sheets, see the State Information section that follows.

Disposal of Fluorescent Lamps and Ballasts
Article from the October 1997 issue of Environmental Building News.

Disposal of PCB Capacitors from Light Ballasts (2001)
U.S. Army Hazardous and Medical Waste Management fact sheet on ballast disposal. Includes a list of PCB capacitor recyclers.

First PCBs, Now DEHP Ballasts
Article covering disposal options for fluorescent light ballasts containing di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).

Light Guide: Lighting Waste Disposal
From the Light Guide published by, an online source for lighting specifiers and buyers.

PCBs in Fluorescent Light Fixtures (EPA Region 10)
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TSCA Disposal Requirements for Fluorescent Light Ballasts
Table of federal regulatory requirements based on on the condition of the ballast.

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State Information

Fact Sheet Used Fluorescent Light Ballasts (WA)

Fluorescent Lamp Management for Consumers
Fact sheet from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Has MA specific information about lamp and ballast recyclers.

How to Manage Used Fluorescent and High-Intensity-Discharge Lamps as Universal Wastes (Illinois EPA)

Managing PCBs in Fluorescent Light Ballasts (MN)

State Lamp Information Web Links
Links to fact sheets and each state's Universal Waste Rule.

State Lamp Recycling Contact Information
Directory of state agency contacts.


This category includes directories of lamp recycling services and non or less toxic product alternatives. For directories of green building web sites, see the Web Sites section.

Fluorescent Light Recycling
Directory of recyclers

List of Companies Claiming to Process or Recycle Spent Mercury Lamps (July 2001)

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Web Sites

These sites are portals or provide comprehensive online information about lighting waste disposal.
One stop information source on lamp recycling. Developed by the lamp section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

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