Mercury-laden compact fluorescent light bulbs will overwhelm recycling programs in Minnesota, according to Dave Dempsey at CleanTechnica.com:
A surge in the number of mercury-bearing energy-efficient light bulbs in use in Minnesota is expected to overwhelm recycling programs in the next few years and there’s no plan yet on how to recycle more of them…
The number of recycled compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) available for recycling in the state is expected to rise from 346,000 in 2008 to 2,419.000 in 2011 as federal and state energy efficiency mandates kick in. Minnesota’s 2008 CFL recycling rate was one of the highest among the states at an estimated 37%, and much of the Gopher State has nearby recycling options.
But many of the state’s consumers aren’t aware that CFLs need to be recycled to contain the mercury. While 73.1% of the state’s households use at least one CFL, only 39% of respondents to a survey knew that recycling of the bulbs is required by Minnesota law.
Local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs receive the majority of Minnesota’s recycled CFLs, with home improvement and hardware stores taking back the bulk of the rest. Because most of the local HHW programs are largely funded by county taxes, it’s unclear whether or how funding to expand them will be made available.
If the state’s recycling rate doesn’t improve, Minnesotans will soon be throwing over 1,500,000 CFL bulbs in the trash every year. That’s enough mercury to pollute 1,000,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels every year in each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.