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City of Yonkers Launches Fluorescent Light Bulb Recycling Program

Release Date: 03/11/2011
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Under the terms of an enforcement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City of Yonkers has initiated a program to recycle fluorescent light bulbs, as well as light ballasts and electronic waste, known as E-waste. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which can be released if the bulbs are broken. Mercury can lead to a variety of health problems, including nervous system damage. By collecting and recycling these bulbs from city residents, Yonkers will be helping to reduce the release of mercury to the environment.

“Fluorescent light bulbs are an energy efficient alternative to incandescent bulbs, and whenever possible should be recycled,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “These bulbs contain mercury, and can be harmful to the environment and human health if not disposed of correctly. By agreeing to implement this program and recycle spent fluorescent bulbs, Yonkers will have a positive impact on the health of its residents for generations.”

In 2008, EPA inspected various buildings belonging to Yonkers and requested documentation regarding the city’s spent bulb recycling efforts. After the city did not adequately respond, EPA cited the city for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.

Agency regulations require that spent mercury and other toxic metal-containing bulbs from business, industry and government be handled as hazardous waste, which means they must be disposed of in specially licensed facilities. As an alternative, they can be handled under simpler universal waste rules to encourage their recycling. Under the universal waste rules, certain recordkeeping, storage and transportation requirements required by generators, collectors and transporters of batteries, pesticides, spent fluorescent bulbs, and other mercury-containing equipment do not have to be met, if the materials are properly recycled.

Under the terms of the settlement, Yonkers will begin collecting spent fluorescent bulbs, light ballasts and E-waste from Yonkers residents. The city will widely publicize the program. Yonkers will collect these hazardous items at the City Recycling Center, located at 735 Saw Mill River Road, in Yonkers.

For more information on safely handling fluorescent bulbs, visit: http://www.epa.gov/cfl/.

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