Recycling Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs in Ottawa

Compact flourescent light bulbs (CFLs) are one of the darlings of the energy conservation movement. For example, Project Porchlight, which started right here in Ottawa, puts CFLs at the centre of their mission to make energy efficiency more accessible to the general public.

There are benefits to CFLs. They last a long time (though in my experience never as long as the package says they will) and they use a fraction of the electricity incandescent bulbs use to produce the same amount of light. However, they have a darker side to them. They contain mercury. While the mercury in CFLs is miniscule, it is enough to make them difficult to dispose of. Under no circumstances should CFLs be put in regular household garbage.

The City’s Take It Back program lists two options for recycling CFLs.  Ikea will take back CFLs that customers have bought from the store.  And Marchand Electrical Company Ltd. in the industrial East End will take back all CFLs (though I never got around to calling them to confirm this).  Unfortunately Marchand is not very accessible to those without cars, so my collection of expired CFLs sat around the basement, growing bigger and bigger.

Fortunately, CFL recycling in Ottawa is easier than the Take It Back guide makes it seem.  As of November  2007 every Home Depot store across Canada began their own take it back program to recycle CFLs.  Just inside the main entrance to each Home Depot, across from the Special Services desk and before the turnstiles to get into the store, you should find a friendly cardboard box with Home Depots’ Eco Options logo on it.  Expired CFLs should be sealed inside a plastic bag, so that the mercury is contained if the bulb breaks, and then placed carefully in the box.  Once the box is full, Home Depot will be send it off to recycling.

This past Monday, I took my collection of CFLs to Home Depot and bid them a fond farewell.

For a Home Depot near you, use their handy store-locator.

6 thoughts on “Recycling Compact Flourescent Light Bulbs in Ottawa

  • I wonder how many people actually will properly discard bulbs.

    Re: “…is not very accessible to those without cars,”

    I have had that problem for years and our rental area is hesitant to host a one-time hazardous household waste drop-off location for residents due to safety concerns.

    Over a year ago, I had contacted someone at the City of Ottawa about the same or if a neighbour with a truck could bring in a collection of old paints, batteries, etc but he said they’d likely be turned away or not seen as residential since they were carrying so much.

    It’s a shame to think that there are more people like me who can’t make it to the depots so just chuck things in the garbage instead.

  • I think it is a shame that, instead of a green box program the city of Ottawa ought to have a hazardous waste collection box once a month or even once every three months to pick up that kind of stuff.
    I would far sooner see thecity save money by not picking up green box waste, but give smaller start up cost funds to local interest groups who would be interested in ( voluntarily) starting their own community composting/ vermicomposting. ( scouts guides, schools, horticultural groups, community gardens could all benefit, not to mention apartment buildings)
    Why truck the green waste all over the place ? It doesn’t make sense environmentally…
    but stopping hazardous wastes such as CFLS, batteries and paints from going into landfill makes more sense to me…

  • Hey everybody just found out Home Depot is not accepting old paint and CFL’s either anymore and was told to call 311 on where to get rid of ????

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