Those spiral compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are so à la mode these days, what with their 75-percent energy efficiency and lasting five times longer than regular incandescent light bulbs. But even though they last for years and years, they do die, eventually, and then what to do? They can't be thrown in with the regular trash because they have mercury in them. If they break on the way to the landfill, the mercury will be released into the soil, where it will react with other elements and then seep into the groundwater. Bad times all around. CityBeat went on a quest to figure out what to do with a dead bulb.
San Diego Gas & Electric has been pushing hard for customers to switch to CFLs, organizing events at which customers can swap old bulbs for CFLS. Alas, they have no disposal program. A customer-service agent gave CityBeat the number for San Diego's Environmental Services Department (ESD). Makes sense--they handle trash pickup anyway, right?
The city treats CFLs as hazardous waste. To get rid of them, San Diegans must call ESD and make an appointment at the Hazardous Waste Transfer Facility at the Miramar Landfill. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, but don't go without an appointment, or you'll be turned away. An ESD agent said Staples and Ikea will recycle them, but none of the San Diego-based Staples have any such program.
Luckily--cue the bugle call--here comes Ikea to save the day. Those beautiful Swedes will take CFLs. Just walk in the store and drop them at the Returns Desk. No appointment needed.