Fluorescent Lamp Recycling

More than 120,000 fluorescent fixtures are installed in campus facilities. To avoid releasing mercury into landfills, the Laborer Electrician Shop has been recycling lamps since 2000.

Used fluorescent lamps are managed on campus under the Universal Waste Rule, and must be sent for proper disposal/recycling. 

Lamps Serviced by F&S

Lamps serviced by F&S are appropriately sorted and sent for recycling. Campus units have two options:

  • Submit a work request to have mercury-containing lamps replaced and managed by F&S. There is a charge for this service, which includes labor, replacement lamps, and lamp recycling.
  • Replace the lamps internally in accordance with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulations. Then submit a work request for pickup of the used lamps by F&S. For a small fee, F&S will pick up used lamps and prepare them for shipment to a recycler.
  • Campus units do not need to keep records of lamps disposed of by F&S.

Lamps Not Serviced by F&S

There are two situations where lamps are not serviced by F&S, unless a work request is placed by the campus unit.

  • Campus units that manage their own lamps, including the Housing Division, Illini Union, State Farm Center, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • Lamps that are not serviced because they are associated with an item that is not part of the facility structure, including lamps in laboratory chemical hoods, incubators, cold rooms, and greenhouses.

Required Procedures for Lamps Not Serviced by F&S

No lamps, regardless of mercury content (with or without green end caps), can be placed directly in the trash. Unprotected low mercury lamps pose a hazard to Waste Transfer personnel and the environment. Once a fluorescent lamp is removed from a fixture, it must be stored in a closed container. This container can be the original box (closed -- no flaps open), or any other container that can be closed completely to protect lamps. The container must be labeled "Used Lamps" and marked with the date the first used lamp was placed in it. Used lamps should not be left uncontained or in an area where they could be broken. Submit a work request to have the used lamps picked up. This is different from having F&S replace the lights. For a small fee, F&S will pick up used lamps and prepare them for shipment to a recycler. The IEPA requires that boxes of lamps can be stored no longer than one year from the accumulation start date placed on the box.

Broken Lamps

If a used lamp is broken, the remains must be cleaned up immediately and stored in a sealed, puncture-resistant bag. Label the bag "Broken fluorescent lamp(s)". Submit a chemical waste pickup request to have the bag picked up by the Division of Research Safety. The UI# for mercury lamps is 7655. Please note on the pickup request form that the lamps are broken.

Ballast Disposal 

For disposal of ballasts, please refer to the Division of Research Safety waste disposal decision guide.