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CFL Bulbs Sold in Mail-ready Recycling Container

earthmate-cfl-pack2One of the few knocks on compact fluourescent lightbulbs has been the fact that they contain mercury and are not easily recyclable and therefore must be handled carefully.

Waste Management Inc.’s new Earthmate CFLs are packaged in a resealable box that also doubles as a postage-paid shipping container to send spent CFLs to Waste Management’s lamp recycling center, according to a press release.

The package is lined with Waste Management’s patent pending Mercury VaporLok, which the company claims reduces the risk of airborne mercury exposure and environmental contamination from lamps broken during storage and shipping.

Consumers can use the box to store used CFLs. The United States Postal Service has approved the box for shipping through the mail, according to the release.

Last summer, Waste Management offered a recycling box for $15 that held 15 bulbs.

Waste management maintains a Web page about the CFL packages here.

Waste Management’s prices are higher than what is available elsewhere, with three-packs of 23-watt bulbs and four-packs of 15-watt bulbs both going for $34.

By comparison, a 14-pack of 40-watt CFLs goes for about $40 at HomeDepot’s Web site. Home Depot has a free in-store, consumer CFL bulb recycling program at all of its U.S. stores.

The number of CFLs sold has jumped from 21 million bulbs in 2000 to about 400 million in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program.

With the new National Energy Plan scheduled to phase out certain incandescent models, it is projected that over 4 billion CFLs will be in households by 2012, according to the release.

The EU is banning all incandescents by 2012.

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