Ask the Expert

Trash Disposal


Lamps contain mercury and in most cases are considered hazardous. The EPA regulates the management of spent lamps. Most states do not allow hazardous lamps to be disposed in solid waste landfills.


Mercury is a metallic element that can accumulate in living tissue. In sufficient concentrations, mercury may cause adverse health effects. Sources of mercury in the environment from human activity include coal-burning power plants, batteries, and fluorescent and HID lamps. Small amounts of mercury are a necessary component in fluorescent and HID lamps, but when a lamp is broken, crushed or dispensed in a landfill or incinerator, mercury may be released to the air, surface water or groundwater. It is a good policy to keep the mercury out of the solid waste stream by recycling.


Whether through a bulk pick-up service, prepaid mail-in containers (UN certified for transit), or drums of crushed lamps using a lamp-crushing machine. The waste will arrive at a certified recycling facility where lamps are fed into a specialized machine for recycling lamps. The entire process is fully automatic and incorporated in a container, thereby preventing mercury from being released into the environment. The phosphor powder is separated in different steps from the glass and metal by-products. Clean glass and aluminum end-caps are separated and stored for reuse. The mercury bearing powder is collected in distiller barrels beneath the cyclone and the self-cleansing dust filters. The powder is then retorted to drive out the mercury. At the end of the process the glass, metal end-caps, powder and mercury can all be reused. Once the materials have been fully processed by the recycling facility, an official certificate of recycling will be produced for your record keeping.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Michael Tuymer is project manager for Air Cycle Corporation. He can be reached at or 800/909-9709.

Share this Page

Dude Solutions Is Back with More Data in Their 2018 Operations Health Index

See how your industry peers reported on the current state of their operations and get insight into how you can use the information to improve yours in Dude Solutions' 2018 Operations Health Index.

Subscribe to SP&M E-News

School Planning & Management's free email newsletter keeping you up-to-date and informed.

I agree to this sites Privacy Policy.