In the US, handling, storage, and disposal of mercury-containing, energy efficient lights such as linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and high intensity discharge lamps are subject to various legal requirements. For businesses, either the Federal Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR 273) or a state’s version of the Universal Waste Rule applies when the volume of lamps (and other types of regulated waste) exceeds a certain threshold. Recycling is usually the only financially viable way for businesses or institutions that generate large numbers of waste lamps to comply with the Rule.
Legal restrictions on disposal of mercury-containing lamps generated by households and small businesses exist mainly at the state level. State laws vary and only California, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts prohibit all mercury-containing lamps from being discarded in the solid waste stream.
Four states, listed below, have passed laws that explicitly address lamp recycling programs within the state. Click below on the state name for information on those laws, or access through the drop-down menu above.
* The Washington State program for recycling “mercury-containing lights” is operated by PCA Product Stewardship Inc. (PCA), a non-profit industry association that specializes in product stewardship on behalf of manufacturers, distributors and retailers of products that are regulated under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws.
A list of laws in other states that pertain to handling and disposal of mercury-added lamps – with contact information for the regulatory authorities – can be viewed by clicking on the following links.
Other State Laws (Residential)
Other State Laws (Commercial)
There are also local ordinances that require recycling of lamps and other mercury-containing products. It’s best to check with your county/municipal authorities to determine whether there are local requirements addressing how and where to dispose mercury-containing waste.
Members of NEMA’s Light Source manufacturing section encourage recycling of all mercury-containing lamps, regardless of whether recycling is required by federal or state law or local ordinance.