CFL Recycling

Bulb Recycling is Good for the Environment and It's the Law

Used fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps require special care because they contain a small amount of mercury. Because mercury is harmful to the environment, Minnesota law prohibits the disposal of fluorescent bulbs in household garbage.

Minnesota Power makes fluorescent bulb recycling as easy as a trip to your local hardware store; we'll even help pay the recycling fee. (See the list of participating fluorescent bulb recycling retailers below.)

Here's how it works:

  • Take your used bulbs and one coupon per bulb to a participating store.
  • Coupons can be used for either free recycling of CFLs or 50 cents off the recycling fee for each qualifying fluorescent tube or lamp.
  • Minnesota Power will redeem up to 10 coupons per household or small business if you are a Minnesota Power customer.

To find the Household Hazardous Waste collection centers closest to you or to find out how to recycle your fluorescent bulbs, visit or the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Participating Retailers

Askov 23 Hardware & Lumber
Bertha Pete's Lumber
Brainerd Weidell Trustworthy Hardware
Brainerd Ace Hardware
Crosby Crosby Ace Hardware
Cross Lake Cross Lake Ace Hardware
Deerwood Deerwood True Value
Timber Building Supply
Duluth/Hermantown Batteries Plus Bulbs
Marshall Hardware
Grey Eagle Neville Hardware
Holdingford Headley Hardware
Little Falls Little Falls Fleet Supply
Little Falls Hardware Hank
Little Falls Ace Hardware
Long Prairie Ace Hardware
Moose Lake Hometown Ace Hardware
Motley Motley Hardware
Pine City Hometown Ace Hardware
Proctor Proctor True Value & Builders Supply
Rice Rice Hardware Hank
Royalton Royalton Lumber & Hardware
Sandstone Sandstone Ace Hardware
Sauk Rapids Czarnetzki Hardware Hank
Mimbach Fleet Supply
Staples Staples True Value
Staples Ace Hardware
Swanville Nilson’s Hardware
Upsala Upsala Farm Store

Backus Godfrey's True Value
Browerville Browerville Hardware
Cloquet Erickson's Trustworthy
Cloquet Home Center
Duluth Denny's Ace Hardware
Hackensack Hackensack Lumber and Hardware
Nashwauk Nashwauk Hardware Hank
Nevis Nevis Lumber
Nisswa Carlson Hardware of Nisswa
Pierz Hartman's Hardware Hank
Pine River Gardiner's Hardware and Furniture
Tower Vermilion Golden Rule Lumber
Virginia Grande Ace Hardware
Walker Walker Home Center

Frequently Asked Questions

CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing – an average of 5 milligrams (roughly equivalent to the tip of a ball-point pen). Mercury is an essential, irreplaceable element in CFLs and is what allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. By comparison, older home thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury and many manual thermostats contain up to 3000 milligrams. It would take between 100 and 600 CFLs to equal those amounts. There is currently no substitute for mercury in CFLs; however, manufacturers have taken significant steps to reduce mercury used in their fluorescent lighting products over the past decade.

CFLs are safe to use in your home. No mercury is released when the bulbs are in use and they pose no danger to you or your family when used properly. However, CFLs are made of glass tubing and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Be careful when removing the lamp from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the lamp by its base, and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket by its tubes. Used CFLs should be disposed of properly using the guidance below.

If you happen to accidentally break a fluorescent bulb, keep people and pets away from the breakage area until the cleanup is complete. Visit the EPA website for details.

You may recycle all types of fluorescent bulbs including circular tubes, u-bend fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs, high-intensity discharge lamps, fluorescent tubes up to eight feet in length.

Follow these guidelines to dispose your CFL properly: Like paint, batteries, thermostats, and other hazardous household items, CFLs should be disposed of properly. Do not throw CFLs away in your household garbage.

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