If you think the mercury in compact fluorescents is a problem, the issue of factories and offices is far greater, with more mercury per bulb and a lot more bulbs- thirty million go to the dump each year in Ontario alone, and improper disposal accounts for 312 kg (687 lbs), enough to contaminate Lake Erie. Now Ontario, Canada has developed what they call the first comprehensive fluorescent tube recycling program in North America. 98% of each lamp is diverted from the dump and the glass, aluminum, phosphorus and mercury are all separated and used in new products.
Compact fluorescents are just a blip on the radar compared to this kind of volume that has been going on every day for years, but as of next year they will be accepted in the program as well.
It's not perfect; we would prefer to see them take residential bulbs now, ending one of the main talking points for the anti-CFL troglodytes, and it requires personal initiative rather than producer responsibility or a deposit on everything. But it is a start.
The Recycling Process
* Lamps move on the conveyor to a negative pressure containment area
* Lamps are then broken in the negative pressure machine to allow the capture of glass, aluminum, brass, and phosphor-mercury powder
* The phosphor-mercury powder is put into the retort treatment unit where it is heated to separate the mercury from the phosphor powder
* The triple distillation process cleans the mercury, thereby making it eligible for reuse
* The mercury is collected and allowed to cool to liquid form and then sent to Bethlehem Apparatus in Hellertown, Pennsylvania in one ton containers where it is triple distilled and then resold.
::Take Back The Light via ::The Star
TreeHugger On mercury and CFLs
Ask TreeHugger: Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous?
What About Mercury From Compact Fluorescents?
The $ 2000 CFL Cleanup: Where Urban Myths Come From
TreeHugger on recycling CFLs
Boring Post on Recycling Fluorescents
Mercury and CFL's : Stop Whining and Recycle