Fluorescent Lighting

The Problem

Millions of fluorescent lamps are sold each year, including tubular bulbs used in commercial and industrial buildings (e.g., linear, circline, or U-shaped) and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which are more common in residences. Fluorescent lamps use significantly less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. However, they also contain mercury, a harmful neurotoxin. When these bulbs aren’t managed properly – for example, they are broken in the trash – that mercury can contaminate drinking water, fish, soil and air, as well as harm the human heart and nervous system. Recycling prevents mercury from entering the environment and allows the recovery of metal and glass. Unfortunately, lamp recycling rates are low due to lack of convenient access to recycling programs and limited awareness of the need to recycle these products.

A Solution

Fluorescent lamp extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs require manufacturers to provide consumers with a convenient way to responsibly manage spent fluorescent lamps. Thanks to producer funding, EPR offers an effective, sustainable financing system that is proven to increase the collection and recycling of leftover lamps, reduce government and overall costs of lamp management, and lessen environmental impacts. In 2009, Maine passed the first EPR law for mercury-containing lighting. Such legislation has since passed in Washington (2010), Vermont (2011), Massachusetts (2014), and Rhode Island (2016). In 2016, Washington’s EPR program collected over one million lamps, an increase of approximately 30 percent from 2013 before the program began.


PSI's Role in Delivering Solutions

Provides Technical Assistance and Implementation Support

PSI provides technical support in implementing, monitoring, and promoting collection and recycling programs for fluorescent bulbs. In recent years, PSI assisted Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Oklahoma in seeking to increase lamp collection and recycling through outreach and education, data assessment, and regulatory proposal review. PSI also helped design and implement a retail collection pilot program in Montana, South Dakota, and Utah, and supported expansion of the  Fluorescents Take It Back Network in Washington. We’ve also held webinars that explored lessons learned from fluorescent lamp product stewardship initiatives across the country.

Advocates for EPR Legislation

PSI monitors, informs, advocates for, and offers expert testimony in support of product stewardship legislation for fluorescent bulbs. PSI supported the passage of Maine’s first-in-the-nation EPR law for fluorescent lamps, as well as subsequent laws passed in Washington, Vermont, and Massachusetts. PSI monitors legislative developments at the state and national levels to ensure that they align with the interests of PSI’s members and partners.

Brings Stakeholders Together

PSI has facilitated multi-stakeholder workgroup calls in Nebraska and Oklahoma on mercury product recycling, including fluorescent lamps. We also ran multiple National Dialogues on Fluorescent Lighting in Utah and Washington to promote the use of energy efficient lighting while eliminating or reducing the amount of mercury and other toxins entering the environment. As part of the initiative, PSI convened work groups that discussed disposal bans, collection infrastructure, financing recycling programs, emerging lighting technologies, lamp breakage, and measuring recycling rates. These dialogues resulted in a national Product Stewardship Action Plan for Fluorescent Lamps. 


Creates Toolkits and Online Resources

PSI develops tools for governments, organizations, and other stakeholders that wish to initiate, evaluate, modify, or promote fluorescent bulb management programs. Some of our most recent resources include:

  • Massachusetts Mercury Outreach Flyer for Building Owners and Managers. February 2017.
  • Massachusetts Employee Safety Signage in English and Spanish. February 2017. 
  • Managing Fluorescent Lamps Safely and Legally (PowerPoint). December 2016.


We provide exclusive fluorescent lamps-specific resources for PSI Members and Partners – login  or  learn more.


For more information, please contact Suna Bayrakal at (617) 671-0616.

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