Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which is harmful to both the environment and human health. Mercury is a greenhouse gas and releasing it into the atmosphere can effect global climate change. When mercury containing bulbs are disposed of improperly, the harmful chemicals can also leach from landfills into the groundwater. Starting in 2007, NIU switched to using lower mercury bulbs to comply with Illinois Law requirements and established an ongoing recycling program for fluorescent lamps on campus.
Building Services works with Environmental Health and Safety to properly recycle light bulbs used on campus. This program does not allow light bulbs brought in from home, however light bulbs from offices and students in the residence halls are accepted. Local stores such as Target and Lowes may collect used light bulbs for recycling.
NIU Light Bulb Recycling Process
Spent light bulbs are changed and collected by Building Services employees
Bulbs are brought to Environmental Health and Safety where James Gable, Chemical Safety Coordinator, sorts the bulbs and prepares them for shipping
Bulbs are sent to Fluorecycle in Ingleside, IL
Fluorecycle crushes the bulbs to remove mercury and other harmful chemicals, recycles the glass and aluminum from the bulbs, and reprocesses the phosphorus.
Glass and aluminum from the bulbs is then recycled