BBB Tips For E-waste Recycling

Did you know some newer lightbulbs contain mercury? Many consumers and businesses have switched to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL), which have a lifespan that is ten times longer than a normal incandescent bulb and are commonly used for table, floor, room and outdoor lighting. CFLs were designed to replace traditional incandescent lightbulbs, but do contain mercury and are hazardous if broken. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) reminds people of the importance of responsibly recycling these lightbulbs, as well as other forms of electronic waste (e-waste).

Although CFLs contain hazardous substances that need to be recycled, they do conserve energy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states CFLs use approximately one quarter of the energy compared to traditional lightbulbs.

“CFL’s make absolute sense from an energy conservation standpoint,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, as they do contain mercury, the importance of recycling these materials – along with other forms of electronic waste – responsibly cannot be stressed enough.”

There are plenty of options when it comes to recycling e-waste that keep hazardous substances out of our ecosystems. Common recycling locations include: some retailers, County Hazardous Household waste recycling sites, and individual recycling companies. A nominal fee may be charged based on the size, weight, or amount of products being recycled. From there, a certificate of destruction confirming e-waste and CFLs have been disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations can be given to the business or homeowner who brings such items to be recycled.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Electronic waste is the fastest growing municipal waste issue.” E-waste includes but is not limited to TVs, CFLs, LED lights, computers, computer monitors and printers. Simply throwing away items such as these opens the door to toxic byproducts working their way into the food chain through waterways and into the fish we consume.

BBB and representatives from the recycling industry convened a series of meetings recently designed to assess consumer awareness of this growing issue and to develop a list of agreed-upon best practices and self-regulatory standards. The group’s aim is to reduce potential complaints in the industry by helping business peers reach a consensus and by educating consumers. Industry review is a core service offered by BBB. Other industries which have worked with BBB include: carpet cleaning, used car sales, gold buyers, hearing aid, estate sales, home health care and many more.

A brochure containing tips on e-waste recycling has been created by BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota with input from representatives of the recycling industry. These tips assist consumers in making educated decisions. This brochure will soon be available on BBB’s website and will also be distributed at BBB’s spring and fall Secure Your ID Day events.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.