January 28, 2015 11:01 am
Updated: January 28, 2015 1:19 pm

Where to recycle compact fluorescent lights

A compact fluorescent lightbulb is shown in a file photo.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Donald King
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TORONTO – Most Ontarians are disposing their compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) improperly.

The Recycling Council of Ontario says nearly 90 per cent of us are not recycling them and are rather throwing CFLs in the garbage instead.

A study released by Statistics Canada last year indicated that almost 9 out of 10 households use at least one type of energy-saving light.

READ MORE: Canadian households get failing grade on throwing out fluorescent bulbs

“Households generally used only one method to dispose of their dead or unwanted CFLs, which contain mercury,” the report said.

The study indicated that one-third, or 32 per cent, of people use a “controlled” method of disposal: 24 per cent reportedly using a depot or drop-off centre and 8 per cent returning the bulbs to a supplier or retailer.

Although the bulbs only contain about 4 milligrams of mercury each, waste management experts say the chemical element at any level is handled as a toxic substance.

READ MORE: What you need to know about LED bulbs

“There are a few ways to dispose properly of CFLs and throwing them in the garbage is definitely not one of them,” said Jennifer Baron, waste management consultant at Golder Associates.

“Mercury is also pervasive and accumulative so when it gets into the environment it bio-accumulates, especially near water bodies. So it is really important to dispose of these products properly.”

There are a number of ways the Recycling Council of Ontario recommends disposing of CFLs.

  • drop off burned lights at your municipal waste depot or hazardous waste drop-off event
  • retailers that may accept burned out CFLs include RONA, Canadian Tire and Ikea
    NOTE: (CFLs) are no longer accepted by Home Depot
  • businesses looking to properly dispose of compact fluorescent lights and tubes are encouraged to visit www.takebackthelight.ca

With a file from Dani-Elle Dube

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