Light Bulb Recycling keeps harmful chemicals out of our landfills and reduces the risk of those chemicals reaching our water supplies.
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.
Spent light bulbs are changed and collected by building services workers
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 Fluorocycle in Ingleside, IL
Fluorecycle crushes the bulbs to remove Mercury and other harmful chemicals
Glass and aluminum from the bulbs is then recycled
NIU recycles light bulbs through Fluorecycle located in Ingleside, Il. Here, they crush the bulbs and remove the Mercury and any other toxic metals. Then, they recycle the glass and aluminum from the bulbs and the phosphorous is reprocessed.
Light Bulb Facts:
620 million fluorescent bulbs are discarded every year
Only about 20% of these bulbs are recycle
A typical fluorescent tube can contain anywhere from 2.5 to 20 mg of mercury
Given that only 20% are recycled, it is estimated that 2 to 4 million tons of mercury are released from light bulbs each year