New Hampshire ceases mercury light bulbs recycling program

State budget cuts have made a new victim out of the New Hampshire mercury-laced low-energy bulb recycling program. The five-year-old initiative has run out of funds and now the residents of the state will have to look elsewhere to recycle fluorescent light tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs and other fixtures that contain small traces of hazardous materials, according to Business Week.

"It's a real problem," Paul Lockwood, pollution prevention supervisor for the state Department of Environmental Services, told the news outlet. "It's against the law to put them in the garbage, so what do consumers do with them?"

While residents of the area can take advantage of hardware store recycling programs, recent statistics show that only 12 percent of these individuals bring their bulbs to the proper receptacle. According to Lockwood, New Hampshire consumers generate 2.6 million spent CFL and fluorescent light fixtures per year. Due to the hazardous nature of mercury and other caustic materials found in these bulbs, the state will have to find a solution to encourage its citizens to dispose of their lights properly.

"When a lamp is broken, its mercury vaporizes," Lockwood told the news source. "If it gets into a landfill, it gets into the ground water."

One way that homeowners can practice greater sustainability and remove these hazardous fixtures from local landfills is to invest in LED lighting. These fixtures do not contain mercury or halogen gases, and are 100 percent recyclable. They also will last far longer than standard incandescent and CFL bulbs, making them the obvious choice for a greener home.

When disposing of mercury-laced low-energy bulbs, be sure to research the proper recycling methods for your area. This will go a long way to reducing your impact on the environment and creating a sustainable community.