How to Build a Bulb Carrier

Do-it-yourself storage container for compact-fluorescent light bulbs

Avoid breakage until you can bring your light bulbs to the recycler.  Label a cardboard six-pack beverage carrier to be mercury-containing light bulb storage until you can take the bulbs to the nearest household-hazardous-waste facility or participating retailer. Step-by-step instructions for building a compact-fluorescent-light-bulb carrier are below. 

For linear fluorescent tubes, label the original fluorescent-tube box or any tall box or barrel.

Download a "Mercury-containing Light Bulb" label to print out (274K PDF).

Call 1-800-RECYCLE for information on recycling locations.

How to Clean up a Broken Fluorescent Bulb Be careful not to break fluorescent bulbs, and know what to do when it happens. This page tells the steps to clean up.   

Post the Mercury-containing Bulb Clean-up Card wherever you will remember to look.


Mercury-containing bulb blown out?  Store it carefully until you can take it in to be recycled. Collect your supplies:
  • a six-pack beverage carrier—We suggest reusing one from beverages.  Ours is a recycled-paper prototype. 
  • a scrap piece of paper
  • a "Mercury-containing Light Bulb" label—Download  and print out a label (274K pdf).


rip paper
Tear the paper into medium-sized pieces. Wad the paper to make padding for your bulbs.
place sticker
Insert a paper wad into each compartment.  Pick up your label. You can print out the downloadable label (as a 274K pdf file) on sticker paper OR...
use recycled office paper and adhere with tape or a glue stick.

peelback peel
For a sticky label, peel off the backing.  
placeon press
Affix the label to your carrier. Press it down carefully.
closeup tote
Gently place your spent light bulb into the new carrier until you can make it to the recycler.  Call 1-800-RECYCLE for information on recycling locations in Washington state. 

Related information

Reducing the release of mercury into the environment—ESSB 5543 passed the Washington State Legislature in 2010. It establishes a producer-financed product stewardship program for the collection, recycling, and disposal of mercury-containing lights.  Producers of CFL lights must participate in and fully implement a product stewardship program by January 1, 2013.  Beginning in 2013, no CFLs may be placed into the garbage.  Ecology's Waste 2 Resources office is working with producers to implement this take-back program. The bill also prohibits the sale of bulk mercury by June 30, 2012.