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What is the correct way to dispose of lamps ?

Certain types of lamp, mainly discharge lamps such as fluorescent tubes, "energy saving" compact fluorescents, metal halide, sodium and mercury vapour lamps, contain very small amounts of hazardous substances.

Apart from the obvious hazard of broken glass from any lamp breakage, such items require careful handling and must be disposed of at your nearest licensed re-cycling centre, which should have special collection points for such items clearly marked.

Whilst the risk is very low, if one of these lamps breaks you should take the following precautions -

  • Use a dust pan and brush to gather the debris rather than a vacuum cleaner.
  • Avoid inhaling any dust particles whilst so doing.
  • Deposit the debris in a bag or cardboard box and seal it.
  • Ventilate the room for a few minutes.
  • Use protective gloves and/or wash your hands.

Since April 2007, these items should be marked with a "crossed out wheeled bin" symbol to show that they should not be considered as general waste. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment [WEEE] Directive was introduced to encourage the recycling of such products to reduce landfill and the potentially harmful effects on health and the environment by the contamination by hazardous subtances. 

The WEEE Directive does not apply to ordinary filament lamps, including halogen lamps and these can be treated as normal waste and disposed of in the appropriate way.

As in all such cases, apply common sense.


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