Florescent Lamps

Fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID), and UV germicidal lamps are considered a hazardous waste and must be collected intact for proper disposal or recycling. The University of Minnesota recycles these lamps to provide raw materials for new products and, most importantly, to prevent mercury from contaminating the environment.


Fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID), and UV germicidal lamps must be collected in containers that protect the lamps during collection and transportation. The original shipping container is the preferred collection package for spent lamps. Remove any cardboard end pieces to assure that lamps fit in the box. Do not put the individual lamp sleeves on the spent lamps. The Chemical   Also, EHSO have boxes available for packaging standard 4 foot and 8 foot length fluorescent lamps. To order a packing box, call 726-6764.

Mercury vapor lamps and other odd shaped fluorescent tubes Shorter than 4 feet lamps can be packaged in any sturdy box. In the case of smaller bulbs, additional packing materials may need to be added to prevent breakage.

Remove sleeves and tape from spent lamps when packing for waste collection. Taping lamps together increases the chance of breakage during the recycling process.

Properly mark the box with the words "Hazardous Waste." The contents, start date, number and size of lamps must be listed on each box.

Facilities Management personnel may choose to post the area in which the bulbs and tubes are collected with the words "Hazardous Waste - collection site for fluorescent, HID and UV germicidal lamps." This method does not require that each box be labeled.

If you happen to break fluorescent, HID, or UV germicidal lamps, collect the broken glass, metal or plastic as a hazardous waste. When fluorescent lamps and HIDs are broken, mercury is released to the environment, but some mercury still remains on the surfaces of the glass, phosphor and the metal or plastic. This debris must be collected as hazardous waste and the container sealed. The container must be properly labeled with the words "Hazardous Waste," the contents listed as "broken fluorescent lamps" with the start date of accumulation.

It costs the University more to have broken lamps processed than intact lamps, but collection of the broken lamps helps keep mercury releases to the environment at a minimum.

Once the box is full, properly packed and sealed, arrange for collection. If you generate a large number of lamps and are located at an off-campus location, call EHSO at 726-6764 to arrange for collection.