Helping Santa Fe Rethink Their Waste
Fluorescent Lights & Mercury
Hazardous waste, known as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW),
can cause potential harm to a community’s health and environment if not handled with precaution. Waste that falls under this category requires special disposal and cannot be disposed of like common household trash or recycling.

EPA Waste Management Hierarchy


Monday - Sunday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

HHW: Only on Fridays and Saturdays

Closed: New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day/4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

Methods of payment: cash, check, debit card, credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover only).


Cash Customers

Monday – Saturday: 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Closed: Sundays, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.

Methods of payment: cash, check, debit card, credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover only).

Commercial Account Customers

Note: Pre-approved commercial account holders only.

Monday – Saturday: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Closed: Sundays, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.

Fluorescent lamps (fluorescent tubes) and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are slowly replacing the traditional incandescent lamp. Fluorescent lamps and CFLs convert electrical power into useful light more efficiently by using mercury as vapor inside the glass tubing.

Most CFLs contain 3–5 mg of mercury per bulb, with the eco-friendly bulbs containing as little as 1 mg. Even in small amounts mercury is still poisonous and creates a potential risk for landfills and waste incinerators where it can contribute to air and water pollution. Thus, the EPA classifies fluorescent lamps and CFLs as hazardous waste, and recommends that they be segregated from common waste for safe disposal and recycling.

  • Fluorescent Lamps or Fluorescent Tubes: Used in commercial or institutional buildings
  • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb CFLs: Similar to a fluorescent lamp but compacted in size for easier use in homes
  • Cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL): Cold-cathode fluorescent lamps are used as backlighting for LCD displays in personal computers and flat screen TVs
  • Thermometers: Mercury-in-glass thermometers are being phased out, but older ones still exist and need to be handled with care.

Where Can I Recycle Fluorescent Lights & Mercury? Search

BuRRT   CFLs can be dropped off 7 days/week at BuRRT between 8:00am-4:45pm.
Home Depot – CFLs ONLY, no tubes 952 Richards Ave, Santa Fe(505) 424-9463
Lowe’s Home Improvement – CFLs ONLY, no tubes 3458 Zafarano Road, Santa Fe(505) 819-4080

How should it be handled?

Ideally, place your old tubes in the same box in which they were purchased. If that is long gone, place your used CFLs in a sturdy container (i.e. box or bucket) with a lid. Label your container and keep it in a safe spot, away from children and pets. If you can’t find a large enough box, try to bring them to a collection center soon after changing them out. When transporting the container, put it in your trunk, back seat, or wrap them so they won’t roll around or tip over.

What if it breaks?

If your CFL or fluorescent tube breaks, you should follow these clean up procedures as recommended by the EPA:

Before Cleanup Search
Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoors.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
•  Stiff paper or cardboard
•  Sticky tape
•  Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces)
•  A glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag

During Cleanup Search

Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder with the cardboard and sticky tape. DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner!

Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup Search

Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.

If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

For more information, visit EPA’s advice on Mercury Spills

What’s the deal?

If CFLs contain mercury, which can be bad for the environment and my health if not properly recycled, then why should I switch from the traditional incandescent light bulb to a more efficient CFL?

In areas with coal-fired power plants, the use of CFLs saves on mercury emissions when compared to the use of incandescent bulbs. This is due to the reduced electrical power demand, reducing in turn the amount of mercury released by coal as it is burned. Coal-fired power plants also emit other heavy metals, sulphur, and carbon dioxide which can be very hazardous to your health. Overall, a CFL uses less energy (roughly 90%) than an incandescent bulb which reduces the emissions at the source.

Read more information on CFLs & Mercury on the EPA’s website.