Lighting accounts for approximately 20% of electricity use in commercial buildings.2
Fluorescent lamps3 use 25%-35% of the energy used by incandescent lamps to provide the same amount of illumination. HID lamps use 10-25% of the lighting energy of incandescent lamps they replace. The comparative energy-efficiency of fluorescent lamps and HID lamps is made possible because an electric arc converts a tiny amount of mercury in the lamp to a gas, which enables the creation of visible light. Mercury is the only known element that will provide the energy-efficiency experienced by fluorescent and metal halide lamps. Ultraviolet lamps used in tanning equipment and for germicidal purposes as well as neon lamps also use small amounts of mercury. At the end of a fluorescent, ultraviolet, neon, or metal halide lamp’s life, there is an even smaller amount of mercury gas left in the tube and mercury atoms that still adhere to the interior of the lamp.4
To keep the small amount of remaining mercury in a spent lamp out of landfills, businesses, schools, governments and building owners should dispose of fluorescent, ultraviolet, neon, and metal halide lamps separately from regular commercial and building waste.5 Some states mandate that businesses and building owners recycle mercury-added lamps. Local waste disposal and public works authorities should be consulted for lamp recycling requirements and opportunities. An entire industry of commercial lamp recyclers6 has evolved to collect and recycle fluorescent and HID lamps from apartment and office buildings, retail stores and warehouses, schools and government buildings.7 This website provides businesses and building owners with an opportunity to find commercial lamp recyclers in their area.