Commercial Lighting: Recycling Regulations

Disposal of mercury-containing lamps by businesses is regulated by Federal Law under the Universal Waste Rule (UWR, 40 CFR Part 273). This rule prohibits most businesses from disposing of hazardous mercury-containing lamps in traditional municipal landfills. Applicability is determined by the volume of waste lamps (and other universal waste) handled during a designated period. In most situations, recycling is the only viable disposal option for waste lamps.

The advantage of the UWR is that it imposes minimal requirements on generators (i.e., businesses) that recycle lamps – no permitting is needed and no special tracking or reporting is required. Most states have adopted the Federal UWR, which contains exemptions for Conditional Small Quantity Generators and households. The Federal law is a baseline, however, and some states have adopted stricter requirements that tighten or eliminate exemptions. Businesses are encouraged to check with their state/local regulatory authorities to determine the rules in their area. Contact information for each state is provided elsewhere on this web site.

Any lamp recycler can assist in setting up a program. A list of recyclers is provided on this web site. Additional information is available from the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers.