Charleston recycling now taking CFLs (those fancy new lightbulbs)

Image by Flickr user DanoImage by 20080813lightbulb.jpg CFLs: Smart, energy-efficient, and potentially toxic if not disposed of properly.

Making the new lightbulbs even more practical in saving some electricity, Charleston County Recycling has announced that it now officially accepts compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). But don't go tossing them in your blue bin.

The county only accepts them at eight "convenience centers" (list at the bottom). Why? It's probably because they're fragile and release toxic mercury if broken, and we've already got enough of that floating around.

CFL bulbs have received much praise for releasing the same amount of light as normal incandescent bulbs, but only use a fraction of the power and last much longer.

All in all, its good to see the county taking them, as the federal recommendation is that if you can't recycle then double-bag the bulb and throw it out ... unless your trash goes to an incinerator, which much of Charleston's does. Doh.

Now, it's also worth mentioning (as we in the Lowcountry use a lot of coal for our power plants) that, statistically, a regular lightbulb releases about twice as much mercury than even a broken CFL, once you account for the mercury released in power production for the life of the bulb.

Personally, I'm still waiting on LED bulbs to go mainstream: 60 equivalent watts of light for one watt of power and almost no mercury, nice.

The recycling centers:
Bee’s Ferry Road Convenience Center, 1344 Bee’s Ferry Road, West Ashley.
Adams Run Convenience Center, Old Jacksonboro Road.
Hollywood Convenience Center, 5305 Highway 165, Hollywood.
Edisto Convenience Center, 2844 Highway 174, Edisto Island.
Wadmalaw Convenience Center, 1558 Liberia Road, Wadmalaw Island.
Charleston County Recycling Center, 13 Romney Street, Charleston.
Maxville Road Convenience Center, 6380 Maxville Road, Awendaw, S.C. 29429
River Road Convenience Center, 1775 River Road, McClellanville.

Also, as of June 24 all Home Depot locations take CFLs for recycling.

Note: Just for the record, we spoke with a Charleston County official who confirmed that, yes, they did recycle the bulbs before, but they now have the ability to recycle them en masse.

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