Light Bulbs (Fluorescent / CFL)

Hazardous Waste
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Illegal in Garbage & Drains

Through the IWMA’s SLO Take Back Program, every retailer that sells compact fluorescent lightbulbs and fluorescent tubes in San Luis Obispo County must take those items back from the public for FREE. To be disposed of through this program, lightbulbs/tubes may not be broken.

The SLO Take Back Program is funded by a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Never Throw in the Trash

Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which is a hazard for your health and the environment. Never throw them away. Store them outside in a sealed container, and dispose of them as Household Hazardous Waste.


Air Out Room if Bulb Breaks

Broken CFL bulbs can release mercury vapor. If one breaks, clear people and pets out of the room, and then air it out for five to ten minutes. To stop the vapor from spreading, also shut off the heat, ventilation and air-conditioning.


Avoid Vacuuming if Possible

Don’t use a vacuum to clean up because this can spread the mercury powder from a broken CFL bulb. Instead, sweep up broken pieces with cardboard or paper. If there are any leftover shards of glass, use a piece of tape to pick them up.

Identifying a CFL Bulb

If you are unsure if your bulb is CFL, check if your bulb is listed with these other CFL bulbs: linear, U-tube and circline fluorescent tubes, bug zappers, tanning bulbs, black lights, germicidal bulbs, high output bulbs and cold-cathode fluorescent bulbs.

Did You Know?

Which Bulbs Are More Energy Efficient Than Incandescent Lamps?

LED lights are more energy efficient than incandescent and CFL bulbs: they last 50 times as long as traditional incandescent bulb and use 80 percent less energy. Fluorescent bulbs last three to 25 times longer than incandescents and use anywhere between 20 and 80 percent less energy.