Broken CFL bulbs can be disposed of locally

108 Mile Ranch resident Roxanne Henderson thinks the push to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) might be a case of putting the cart before the horse. She is concerned there isn’t enough information about the handling and disposal of both burnt-out and damaged CFLs. Recently, she had knocked over a lamp in her bedroom and broke the CFL bulb. Knowing these bulbs contain mercury, she says proper disposal of used and damaged CFLs is important because they’re considered hazardous waste. She went to the Health Canada website because she knew there were guidelines for the proper cleanup of broken CFLs. “I followed those directions and closed the door, opened the windows and let it air out for quite a few hours to make sure the room was well aired out.” Following website instructions, Henderson used dishwashing gloves to pick up the miniscule shards of glass and put them into a Mason jar. “I used a wet paper towel and packing tape to get up the other little bits.” Because the bulb broke on a carpet, she used a vacuum cleaner to pick up any leftover particles. “Then I put everything, including the stuff I used to pick up the glass into two Mason jars and put them in the outside garden shed because they aren’t supposed to be left in the house.” Henderson says she then called Century Hardware because she knew they took burnt-out CFLs, as she had taken one there for disposal a couple months earlier. To her surprise when she called the store, an employee told her they don’t take damaged bulbs. Then she called the Recycling Council of BC hotline and was told Century Hardware was a collection site depot and, therefore, had to accept broken CFLs, too. Following that, Daniela Damoc, Product Care Association (PCA) program co-ordinator, got involved and told Henderson the company had been contacted and had been under the impression they didn’t have to accept broken CFLs, but now know they must accept them. Century Hardware owner Harley Petersen says there was some miscommunication, as the staff wasn’t aware it was supposed to take broken CFLs for the recycling program. Everyone is aware of it now, he adds, and there won’t be any further problems going forward. Petersen says people who have broken CFLs should bring them to the store in either a sealed glass jar or a sealed plastic bag. “What we’re basically asking for is something like a Ziploc bag where you can put all of the broken pieces and such into it.” When the store receives sufficient quantities of burnt-out or broken CFLs to fill up its boxes, Petersen says they call Damoc to get the boxes picked up. “She makes arrangements for a courier to pick them up and then they send us more boxes.” He adds these are special boxes and there are guidelines and procedures that have to be followed when they are sealing them. “If a bulb breaks during shipment, it makes sure everything remains inside the box.” Noting all Home Hardware stores are part of the PCA, Petersen says not all are collection depots. However, his store jumped on the opportunity to collect the compact fluorescents as well as the fluorescent tubes for recycling. While unsure about how many boxes he’s sent away for recycling, he notes more and more people are using the program, as his staff gets more information out to the public that the service is available. There is no cost to the public to drop the compact fluorescents and tubes, and Petersen doesn’t get paid to collect them, but he’s doing it as a public service. “We don’t want to see them in the landfills anymore than anybody else.”

100 Mile House Free Press