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Disposing of Fluorescent Lamps – A Guide for Businesses


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The following information provides answers to commonly asked questions regarding the management of waste fluorescent lamps that exceed the regulatory limit for mercury via the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). Please remember this information serves only as a guide and does not replace the requirements of Delaware's Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste.

1.    Is the disposal of fluorescent lamps regulated in the State of Delaware, and does the State consider spent lamps hazardous waste?
In Delaware, waste fluorescent lamps generated by businesses can be managed in one of three ways; as a solid waste if it is demonstrated the spent fluorescent lamps do not exceed the TCLP regulatory limit (0.2 mg/L) for mercury; as a hazardous waste if no analytical data is available to demonstrate the spent fluorescent lamps are not hazardous or if analytical testing reveals the spent fluorescent lamps are hazardous; or under the state’s Universal Waste Rule (UWR) contained in the DRGHW, Part 273.

The only exception is for household hazardous waste as defined in the DRGHW, §261.4(b), which includes any waste routinely derived from households.

2. How do I manage my lamps if analytical data reveal them to be non-hazardous waste?

Since all fluorescent lamps contain some level of mercury, the best management practice is proper recycling. Non-hazardous waste fluorescent lamps may not be disposed in a Delaware solid waste landfill, with the exception of the municipal solid waste landfills operated by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. Prior to disposal in a DSWA landfill, permission must be obtained. For further information, contact the DSWA at 302.739.5361.

3. If my lamps are hazardous waste, or I do not have data demonstrating otherwise, how must I manage them?

Hazardous waste lamps, or those with no generator or manufacturer analytical data to prove otherwise, must be managed as a hazardous waste and you must comply with the applicable DRGHW for waste generation, transportation and disposal as required of your generator category classification. An alternative would be managing the lamps under the UWR.

4. What benefit is there in managing my lamps under the UWR?

The Universal Waste Rule is designed to simplify the management of mercury-containing devices.

A small quantity universal waste handler may accumulate up to 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg) of fluorescent lamps for a period of one year. Unlike hazardous waste, universal wastes are not required to be transported by a Delaware permitted hazardous waste transporter. Further, use of a hazardous waste manifest is not required. The requirements for generators of universal waste, along with the requirements for managing such wastes are found in Part 273 of the DRGHW.

5. I use a lamp crushing device, such as “drum-top” crusher, what must I do?

If you desire to manage your waste fluorescent lamps under the UWR, the crushing of fluorescent lamps is prohibited.

Generators wishing to crush lamps are treating a hazardous waste and must, at a minimum, comply with the requirements for treatment and disposal in the Delaware Rules Governing Hazardous Waste. A permit from DNREC’s Air Quality Management Section may also be required. For further information, contact the SHWMB at 302.739.9403.

6. I want to recycle my hazardous waste fluorescent lamps. Are they still considered hazardous waste?

Yes, fluorescent lamps are still considered hazardous waste (unless there is data showing otherwise), even if they are sent to a recycling facility. Therefore, waste fluorescent lamps must be managed as a universal waste or hazardous waste in full compliance with the Delaware Regulations Governing Hazardous Waste.

7. If I manage my waste fluorescent lamps as hazardous waste, can they be accumulated in a satellite accumulation area?

Yes, you may manage these wastes as hazardous waste in a Satellite Accumulation Area.

Section 262.34(c) of the DRGHW states in part:

 “A generator may accumulate as much as 55 gallons of hazardous waste in containers ...     at or near the point of generation where wastes initially accumulate, which is under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste, without a permit ... provided he:

 (i) Complies with §§ 265.171, 265.172, and 265.173(a) of these Regulations; and
 (ii) Marks his containers either with the words ‘Hazardous Waste’ or with other words that identify the contents of the containers.”

The SHWMB allows generators of hazardous waste fluorescent lamps to maintain one satellite area, provided this area is located near, and under the direct control of the personnel responsible for maintaining and replacing fluorescent lamps at the site. Should your site choose to satellite accumulate fluorescent lamps, the SHWMB will allow the accumulation of lamps up to 2,800 linear feet. For example, 700 intact four foot length lamps may be kept in one satellite area. Once the lamps are accumulated, each box or container holding the lamps must be dated and moved to your site’s hazardous waste accumulation area. Once in the accumulation area, the waste fluorescent lamps may be accumulated up to the number of days afforded your site’s generator category classification, e.g., 90 days for large quantity generators of hazardous waste or 180 days for small quantity generators of hazardous waste.

8. I am a conditionally exempt small quantity generator. Can I dispose of my hazardous waste fluorescent lamps in Delaware’s landfills?

No, the DRGHW prohibit disposal of any hazardous waste from businesses into a solid waste landfill, such as those operated by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. Delaware generators of hazardous waste may not use these landfills as a disposal option.

You can view the Waste Lamp Fact Sheet here.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Branch at 302.739.9403.

NOTE: If you choose to manage waste fluorescent lamps under Universal Waste Rule, please follow instructions according to the web page.


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