In the United States, handling, storage, and disposal of mercury-containing 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 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.
For households and small businesses, legal restrictions on disposal of mercury-containing lamps exist mainly at the state level. State regulations vary, but California, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington 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.
Maine law does not allow mercury-added lamps to be disposed of in the trash. All waste lamps containing mercury must be recycled and lamp manufacturers are required to fund and operate a statewide collection and recycling system.
All Massachusetts businesses, facilities, schools, government agencies and even households are affected by Chapter 190 of the Acts of 2006 – An Act Relative to Mercury Management (amended in 2014) – which banned mercury-containing lamps from landfills and incinerators as of May 1, 2008.
Vermont law prohibits the disposal of lamps with mercury in the trash. All waste lamps containing mercury must be recycled and manufacturers are required to fund and operate a statewide collection and recycling system.
Washington State law requires that all “mercury-containing lights” be recycled. A collection and recycling system operates throughout the state, funded by an ‘environmental handling charge” collected at retail sale of new mercury-containing lights.
A list of rules and regulations 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.
There are also local ordinances that require recycling of lamps and other mercury-containing products. Check with your county/municipal authorities to determine local requirements.VIEW STATE MAP