Skip to content
Creative Containers Plus, LLC


What kind of health hazard does exposure to Mercury pose?

Answer: When liquid mercury is spilled, it forms droplets that can accumulate in the tiniest of spaces and then emit vapors into the air. Health problems caused by mercury depend on how much has entered your body, how it entered your body, how long you have been exposed to it, and how your body responds to the mercury. All mercury spills, regardless of quantity, should be treated seriously.

Mercury concentrations in air are usually low and of little direct concern. But when mercury enters water, biological processes transform it to a highly toxic form that builds up in fish and animals that eat fish. People are exposed to mercury primarily by eating fish.

Methylmercury is highly toxic. The developing fetus is the most sensitive to the effects of mercury, and so women of childbearing age are the population of greatest concern. Children of women exposed to relatively high levels of methylmercury during pregnancy have exhibited a variety of abnormalities, including delayed onset of walking and talking, reduced neurological test scores, and delays and deficits in learning ability.

Eight percent of the women of childbearing age have levels of mercury in their blood that exceeds the level EPA considers safe. In addition, there is growing evidence that methylmercury exposure can have adverse cardiovascular effects for adults, resulting in elevated blood pressure and incidence of heart attack (taken from EPA Website).


How much mercury does a standard 4 foot fluorescent lamp contain?

Answer: Each four-footer contains between 5 and 50 milligrams of mercury is dependent on the diameter and the wattage of the lamp.

How many fluorescent lamps burn out annually in the USA?

Answer: There are over 650,000,000 lamps that burn out annually and enter landfill sites in the US. That is 650 Million. This represents over 35,000 pounds of mercury waste.

Are the “Green” fluorescent lamps safe to dispose in a conventional landfill site?

Answer: While manufacturers continue to claim lower amounts of mercury in the newer so-called “green” lamps, recycling the lamps is still recommended by the Federal EPA. Regardless, no lamps containing any amount of mercury can be disposed of in unlined landfill sites. Lamps found in landfills will make violators liable for clean up costs assessed by CERLCA.

What is the life cycle cost of a fluorescent lamp?

Answer: A 60 watt lamp will burn out in about 9 months based on leaving the light on for 16 hours a day (2 shifts). Consider the original purchase price of $2.00 and electricity at $0.08 per KW hour, or $32.50. Recycle cost of approximately $0.50 represents 1 ½ % of the total life cycle cost.

How are fluorescent lamps recycled?

Answer: Although Creative Containers Plus, LLC (CC Plus) does not offer recycling services and transportation throughout, we maintain an up-to-date listing of North American facilities that properly recycle lamps.

Once the lamps are picked up in the approved containers, they are transported to a permitted facility for recycling. Equipment, such as crushers and separators are used for the recycling of all types and sizes of discarded fluorescent lamps. Systems separate the lamps into lime soda glass, aluminum end caps, lead glass/ferrous metal components and phosphor powder. The phosphor powder is retorted to extract the mercury.

The operating conditions meet even the toughest environmental standards. The processes are generally fully automatic and incorporated in negative pressure containment, preventing mercury from being released into the atmosphere. Exhaust air is constantly discharged through carbon filters. Sophisticated air handling systems separated the different airborne chemicals from the by-products. Mercury laden powder is collected distilled and extracted.

At the end of the process the glass, metal end-caps, powder, and mercury can all be re-used.

How should lamps be packaged for pick-up?

Answer: Intact Lamps must be packaged in a manner to “minimize” breakage. The OEM corrugated box is the least costly method of packaging. Fiber drums are a simple alternative. Because they have lids, fiber drums provide a quick and flexible method of storage prior to disposal. Lamps must be free of foreign material, including tape on the lamp, and paper sleeves. These containers are also not environmentally friendly. They allow and cause lamp breakage and subsequent leaching of the chemicals into the packaging, trucks/ vans and surrounding area. Reuse of contaminated packaging exposes operators to hazardous chemicals especially mercury.

            CC Plus custom returnable recyclable packaging, designed and built to your processing and recycling requirements. Maintaining spent lamps as UNIVERSAL WASTE that doesn’t require any special permits.

Why should I not use the original cardboard carton that the fluorescent lamps came in?

Answer: While some recycling companies recommend the use of the original cartons, it should be noted that a potential risk is still lurking. A lamp that breaks during transit to the recycler will have its chemistry, including mercury, absorbed into the cardboard as well as leach out into the transport truck, the work gloves of the handlers and other cartons that it comes in contact with. If this carton and the adjacent cartons appear reusable, the problem contamination will be spread over a greater area.

            CC Plus custom returnable/ recyclable packaging, designed and built to your processing and recycling requirements, is completely enclosed and can be sterilized before reuse.

What are the known risks and disadvantages of commercially available crushers?   

Answer: (Extract from California website) Notice of No State of California Evaluation or Recommendation for Drum Top Fluorescent Lamp Crushers.

This document is a preliminary survey and report on drum top fluorescent lamp crushers. The equipment has not been evaluated or recommended by the State of California, nor has its use been authorized as required by section 25201 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Lamp crushers are a form of hazardous waste treatment that requires authorization from DTSC pursuant to section 25201 of the California Health and Safety Code. Persons operating them must obtain a Standardized hazardous waste facility permit. This permit includes a comprehensive review of the human health and environmental impacts of the treatment operation.

Drum top lamp crushers have historically released unacceptable levels of mercury vapor and have caused expensive contamination of their surroundings. DTSC is now participating in a United States Environmental Protection Agency study of modern drum top fluorescent lamp crushers exploring their mercury release. If further studies and/or future technological improvements adequately demonstrate the safety of these devices, DTSC will consider modifying the authorization needed to operate these crushers.

            CC Plus custom returnable recyclable packaging, designed and built to your processing and recycling requirements. Maintaining spent lamps as UNIVERSAL WASTE that doesn’t require any special permits.

Are lamp crushers less expensive and environmentally safe?   

Answer: In addition to the cost of the original equipment, training and maintenance costs will soon outweigh any perceived cost effectiveness. Disposal media such as filters and collector devices will add to the expense. Once lamps are crushed and the chemistry is isolated, you now become a hazardous waste handler and require permits to collect, store and transport this material.

            CC Plus custom returnable recyclable packaging, designed and built to your processing and recycling requirements. Maintaining spent lamps as UNIVERSAL WASTE that doesn’t require any special permits. No special training is required and the containers are durable, cleanable and returnable.

Why is on-site lamp crushing not recommended?   

Answer: Crushing lamps on-site is a EPA regulated activity. Crushing lamps creates mercury vapor that is difficult to contain. The risk of the hazardous mercury seeping out of containers and filters increases dramatically when being transported to a certified recycling center now as a “hazardous waste”. Leaking mercury is also more quickly absorbed into the body through the skin.

            Keeping lamps intact until they reach a qualified recycler prevents mercury exposure. By using CC Plus special purpose containers to handle and transport lamps from the point of use to a certified recycling center reduces the risk of breakage and personal exposure to mercury, lead and other hazardous chemicals. Mercury still contained within the intact lamps does not pose any hazard to handlers. Processed in this manner also maintains the spent lamps under the “universal waste” rule requiring no special permits.

What type of lamps can and should be recycled?   

Answer: All straight fluorescent, including compacts; circular and U-bend fluorescent; UV Lamps; flood lamps; incandescent lights; halogen; HID (High Pressure Sodium, Metal Halide, Biax, High Intensity, Bi-Metal); shatter-resistant or coated lamps .

Do all lamps and lamps contain hazardous chemicals?   

Answer: While only a few contain mercury, all illumination products contain chemicals that are hazardous to your health and the environment. Mercury is a deadly known carcinogen (cancer causing element) and must be treated with care and respect. Overexposure to mercury can cause learning disabilities, impair kidney and immune function and, in extreme cases, lead to loss of sight and hearing.

What does the word “DUNNAGE” mean or refer to?   

Fluorescent tubes with dunnage
Fluorescent tubes with dunnage

Answer: The word “dunnage” isn’t found in any English dictionary (yet). It is a word contrived or invented by the material handling industry to refer to all material that is used to protect a cargo. For example, the television set you purchased had styrofoam blocks suspending the TV inside a cardboard carton. The styrofoam is the “dunnage” in this case.