Management and Disposal of Mercury Containing Equipment Including Lamps

Mercury is contained in several types of instruments that are commonly used by electrical utilities, municipalities, and households. Among others, these devices include barometers, meters, temperature



FIGURE 29.2 Schematic diagram of a CRT.

Cathode ray tubes

Aeration of tubes (safety precaution)

Aerated tube (incl. fluorescent coating and ferrous metals)


Ferrous metals

Nonferrous metals




Metal recovery

Flourescent coating

Specific glass recovery

Incineration in hazardous waste incineration plant


Landfill for stabilized residues

Destruction in suitable plants

VREG fact sheets: Example

Main recycling/disposal path

FIGURE 29.3 Flow diagram of the management, separation, recycling, and disposal of waste CRTs. [From SAEFL, Waste Management Guidelines for the Ordinance on the Return, the Taking Back and the Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Appliances (ORDEA), Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape, p. 76, Bern, Switzerland, 2000. With permission.]

gauges, pressure gauges, sprinkler system contacts, and parts of coal conveyor systems. U.S. EPA has received data on mercury-containing equipment since 1995, when it issued the first Federal Universal Waste Rule. The Agency believes that adding mercury-containing devices to the universal waste stream will facilitate better management of this waste.10

The Universal Waste Rule tailors management requirements to the nature of the waste in order to encourage collection (including household collections) and proper management. Universal waste generators, collectors, and transporters must follow specific record keeping, storage, and transportation requirements. The U.S. EPA is proposing the same tailored requirements for all mercury-containing equipment.

U.S. EPA initiated a mercury-containing lamp recycling outreach program in 2002 to promote mercury lamp recycling by commercial and industrial users. The outreach program aims to increase awareness of the proper disposal methods of these lamps in compliance with Federal and State Universal Waste Rules. This outreach effort will be effective in increasing the amount of lamps recycled in the short term, as well as have a lasting impact over the long term. The U.S. EPA's goal is to raise the national recycling rate for mercury lamps from the current 20% to 40% by 2005, and to 80% by 2009.

U.S. EPA awarded funds in the form of 10 cooperative agreements for the development and implementation of a coordinated nationwide mercury-containing lamp recycling outreach program. This program is currently being implemented in two phases. Recipients of phase 1 cooperative agreements are developing outreach materials such as fact sheets, a recycling database, websites, public service announcements, and educational materials.

While phase 1 cooperative agreement recipients focused on developing outreach materials, the recently selected phase 2 recipients will focus on outreach program implementation. They will conduct outreach to segments of the lamp-disposing population by adapting outreach materials developed in phase 1 to target-specific audiences (i.e., industry-specific lamp users or lamp users within a certain geographic location).

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