Frequently Asked Questions

Why do fluorescent lamps have to be recycled? Is it against the law to just throw the bulbs in the trash?

All fluorescent lamps contain mercury.  When they are discarded, federal and state regulators assume that lamps are a hazardous waste.  In most circumstances, waste lamp generators must manage, transport and recycle or dispose of lamps as a hazardous waste or comply with the more lenient Universal Waste Rule (UWR). The UWR provides streamlined regulations for the management and transportation of lamps. 


The federal government and nearly all states strongly encourage the voluntary recycling of all fluorescent lamps.  However, under the federal rules, management and disposal of lamps under certain conditions is not regulated. Lamps are not regulated by the federal government if:

  1. The lamps pass the test that determines whether a waste is a hazardous waste (the test, called the TCLP, determines the leach-ability of mercury in the lamp).
  2. A household generates the lamps.
  3. A Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator (CESQG), which is a generator of less than 220 pounds of hazardous waste per month and who accumulates less than 2,200 pounds at any one time, generates the lamps.

These exemptions are not as broad as they appear.  Lamps are assumed to be hazardous, so generators disposing of "non-hazardous" lamps are required to either test their lamps or maintain current information on the lamps disposed to prove they were properly characterized as non-hazardous.  This means that every different model number of lamp used must be individually documented.

In addition, any exemption from recycling or hazardous disposal requirements does not relieve a generator from liability that might arise from those lamps.  Generators are still liable for their lamps, including possible Superfund liability.

Finally, many solid waste and industrial waste landfills cannot accept hazardous wastes, even if they are generated by a CESQG.

State Stringency

State regulations can be more stringent than Federal regulations. Many states have lamp recycling regulations that are more stringent than federal requirements. In some states, all mercury-added lamps are hazardous and must be recycled or disposed as a hazardous waste.

What other materials should I recycle? Does LampTracker recycle other things besides fluorescent lamps?

We offer environmentally friendly, safe and simple recycling solutions for fluorescent lamps, dry cell batteries, lighting ballasts, mercury devices, dental amalgam, computers and electronics, and bottles, cans, and paper, and plastic bags and shrink wrap.

What are Universal Wastes?

Mercury-containing lamps, batteries, and medical and electrical equipment and devices are regulated as Universal Wastes.

Do I have to pay to ship the box back? Does LampTracker provide shipping materials?

The LampTracker program includes an attached prepaid return shipping and a recycling container.

How are LampTracker boxes different from regular shipping boxes?

WM LampTracker lamp boxes provide three levels of protection. The easy-to-load inner lamp box protects the bag. The zippered foil bag contains any release of mercury vapor from broken lamps. The white outer shipping box is easy to distinguish within the facility and completes a strong, solid container for waste storage and shipping.  It is the only waste lamp packaging approved for shipment by UPS. WM LampTracker containers have been tested according to ASTM standards for safe storage and transport and are U.S. DOT/United Nations-certified for hazardous waste.

What is Mercury VaporLok®?

Mercury VaporLok is an added feature to the TriGuard® system. In addition to the inner lamp box and outer shipping box included in LampTracker orders, Mercury VaporLok provides maximum health and safety protection by sealing the inner lamp box in a zippered foil bag so that no harmful vapors can escape.

How do I know my waste has been properly disposed?

Once we've safely recycled your materials we'll provide you with a certificate of compliance.  You can also track the progress of your entire order on our website.


Recycle From Home
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