Department of Ecology News Release - September 28, 2015

Washingtonians recycle 422,000 fluorescent lights in first months of new program
LightRecycle keeps lights containing mercury out of the environment

OLYMPIA – More than 422,000 mercury-containing fluorescent lights were collected for recycling in the first six months of 2015, according to LightRecycle Washington, the not-for-profit organization that runs the recycling program on behalf of light manufacturers.

“It’s an encouraging start and it shows that Washingtonians understand how to safely recycle CFLs and other lights that contain mercury,” said Peter Thermos, program manager for LightRecycle Washington.

Since the beginning of the year, individuals and businesses can recycle lights at no charge by dropping them off at more than 220 LightRecycle collection sites throughout the state, including many hardware stores, solid waste drop-off sites and municipal offices. Washington residents can find a participating collection site by visiting and entering their ZIP code or city.

The LightRecycle program was developed in response to a 2010 state law requiring fluorescent bulbs and other lights, such as high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, that contain mercury to be recycled. The amount of mercury, a toxic heavy metal, contained in a typical fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent light is very small – far below the amount found in a household thermometer. However, when broken, fluorescent bulbs release mercury vapor into the atmosphere. This is why it is so important to keep fluorescent, CFL, and HID lights out of the garbage and curbside recycling bins.

“Fluorescent lights are inexpensive, long-lasting and energy-efficient,” Thermos said. “However, the small amount of mercury they contain means that they need to be recycled safely when they wear out.”

LightRecycle works with the Washington Department of Ecology, which administers the mercury lights law. Since the program’s launch, lights have been collected in every Washington county at collection sites or community collection events. Go to for details.


Andrew Wineke, Ecology communications, 360-407-6149, @ecologyWA

Peter Thermos, LightRecycle Washington program manager, 206-850-7383