Dispose of fluorescent lights

Last updated: 13 January 2021

Why recycle fluorescent lights?

Fluorescent lights contain a small amount of mercury. Fortunately the risk of mercury poisoning, even when a CFL or fluorescent tube is broken indoors, is extremely low. Mercury in landfill, however, converts to toxic methylmercury and spreads through the wider environment via the air, water and soil. It's estimated 95% of mercury-containing lamps are currently sent to landfill in Australia.

Recycle your fluorescent lights to:

  • divert from landfill
  • increase recovery of valuable resources
  • reduce the risk to the environment and human health.

How to recycle fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights can be disposed of for free at any of the 30 permanent drop-off sites across Victoria. Typically located at council depots and transfer stations, these sites are accessible all year round and are open to all Victorians wherever they live.

Who can use permanent drop-off sites?

Permanent drop-off sites are for Victorian households only. Commercial and industrial sector fluorescent lights can be recycled through Fluorocycle, a voluntary product stewardship scheme that seeks to increase the national recycling rate of waste mercury-containing lamps. Options for workplaces or businesses are available through Planet Ark's Business Recycling website.

Fluorescent light recycling limitations

Only unbroken fluorescent lights should be dropped off at recycling points.

Broken fluorescent lights

Broken fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights contain a small amount of mercury inside the glass tube, so if you accidentally break one, it needs to be disposed of correctly by:

  • turning off your heating and cooling
  • opening doors and windows to naturally ventilate the room
  • carefully sweeping it up wearing disposable rubber gloves
  • wrapping it in paper and disposing of it in your rubbish bin.

What happens to fluorescent lights after disposal?

The collected fluorescent lights are safely transported to an approved reprocessing facility. As part of the recycling process the metal, glass and mercury bearing phosphor powder are recovered and reused.