Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, all Washington businesses will be required by law to recycle their fluorescent light bulbs and tubes.
The law, RCW 70.275.080, was passed in 2010 with Section 8 becoming effective on New Year's Day. It requires all persons, residents, government, commercial, industrial and retail facilities and office buildings to recycle mercury-containing light bulbs and tubes at the end of their life.
Nationwide, efforts to increase energy conservation and lower operating costs are increasing the use of fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The downside: each light contains a small amount of mercury that can be harmful to both humans and wildlife when disposed of incorrectly. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, about 680 million lights are disposed of annually, most at solid waste disposal facilities, including landfills and incinerators.
Under the new law, the most common types of lights that will need to be recycled include CFLs, fluorescent tubes and HID (high-intensity discharge) lights.