Burlingame Vice Mayor Prompts Bulb Recycling

Posing as a consumer, Burlingame Vice Mayor Terry Nagel was troubled by the lack of answers she found regarding proper disposal of her compact fluorescent light bulbs.

“Everyone gave me different information,” Nagel said. “Even though the state made disposing of CFLs in residential trash illegal in 2006, they didn’t provide funding for community awareness programs — they passed the law, but gave no money for its enactment.”

Without proper education, the public likely does not know the harmful impact of not recycling these bulbs. While CFLs use about a quarter of the amount of electricity of standard bulbs, they contain mercury, a substance that once in a landfill is there forever, Nagel said.

Since 2008, Nagel has been working to encourage recycling centers in San Mateo County to publicize proper handling of CFLs. She enlisted the help of Recology — which will be taking over garbage services in a large part of the county starting in January — to post a list of CFL disposal locations within the county.

“This is just one component in the many services we provide,” Recology spokeswoman Gina Simi said. “Proper disposal is vital to the environment and our communities.”

Only a handful of recycling centers were available a couple years ago, but now Recology lists about 26 throughout San Mateo County, including several Home Depot and IKEA locations.

“These big businesses have been great about taking back CFLs,” Nagel said. “Every time people go to these stores, they are encouraged to recycle. It’s good to have reminders out there.”

With composting and mixed recycling coming to Burlingame, it is an ideal time to be reinforcing proper disposal of hazardous waste, Nagel said. It is necessary for people to understand the importance of recycling CFLs, both in environmental terms and for their own safety.

By: Sarah Haughey
Examiner Staff Writer
July 29, 2010


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