Disposal of CFLs is a nationwide concern. WM believes the ease of curbside recycling will encourage use of the energy-saving bulbs.
The initiative, which began in Rolling Hills Estates, California, last July, is a step that may help decrease overall energy usage by encouraging the use of CFLs.
CFLs use just one-quarter of the energy of traditional incandescent light bulbs. By switching to CFLs, consumers can lower their household energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, the U.S. would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and save more than $600 million in energy costs annually.
However, since CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, they must be recycled in a specific way to protect public health and the environment, according to California law. Disposal of CFLs has long been seen as the largest impediment to large scale adoption of the energy-saving bulbs.
But through the new program, Waste Management will mail a specially designed Mercury VaporLok® container to Rolling Hills Estates customers. The container, which can hold up to 13 CFLs, is suitable to both store and transport the discarded bulbs. And, residents can schedule a free pickup to coincide with any regularly scheduled curbside service.
Curbside recycling has already proved to be a wonderful incentive to increase recycling rates. Adding the ease of curbside recycling for CFLs to the program just makes good sense.