If you like the idea of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs but worry about the mercury they contain, now you can worry a lot less. The Home Depot is selling bulbs that have cut the amount of mercury most bulbs contain in half. And when you’re finished with the bulbs, you can recycle them – along with any other CFLs you have – at any of the company’s 1,973 stores.
Simply bring in your expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will be handled by an environmental management company that will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.
“With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs,” said the company’s Ron Jarvis, senior vice president, Environmental Innovation.
What’s the appeal of CFLs? They use up to 75 percent less energy, last longer and cost less over time than incandescent bulbs. The average household can reduce its energy bills by $12 to $20 a month by using CFLs. The bulbs were once accused of emitting a harsh, glaring light. But many bulbs generate a softer, yellower light now, increasing the appeal of using them for any room in the house.
In addition to recycling CFLs, The Home Depot plans to introduce more dimmable compact fluorescents within the year. Home Depot’s bulbs contain 2.3 to 3.5 milligrams of mercury, which is below the National Electrical Manufacturers Association recommendation of 5 milligrams or fewer. It is a small amount, equivalent to the volume of the steel ball in the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, home thermostats contain about 1,000 times more mercury than the common CFL.
The company says it sold more than 75 million CFL’s in 2007, saving Americans approximately $4.8 billion in energy costs and preventing 51.8 billon pounds in climate-changing greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere over the life of the bulbs.
The Home Depot is not only encouraging consumers to change their light bulbs. It’s doing the same in its own stores. The company expects to save $16 million in annual energy costs by switching all of its U.S. Light Fixture Showrooms to CFLs by the fall of 2008.
The CFL recycling program is an extension of The Home Depot’s Eco Options program. Eco Options, launched in April 2007, is a classification that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment.
Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an easy change consumers can make to reduce energy use at home. According to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR(R) program, if every American switched one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars.
NOTE: Consumers can also recycle CFLs at any IKEA store.