Fluorescent lamps will last four to five times more than incandescent bulbs. These lamps are beneficial as they reduce the need for power plants to burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, reduce the release of emissions including mercury, carbon dioxide and other pollutants that affect global warming.
Fluorescent lamps reduce solid waste, since they last longer. The incandescent or halogen lamps have a short life and require frequent replacement. The lamps used in Hitachi projectors have a long life.
These energy-efficient lighting products such as the fluorescent lamps, CFLs, and the high intensity discharge (HID) lamps contain small amounts of mercury.
The mercury remains inside the lamp and doesn't hurt the environment unless the lamp is broken. This mainly happens at the end of its life. The lamp is mostly broken when it is thrown in a garbage truck or a dumpster; thereby releasing mercury.
These lamps are not a major source of mercury pollution, but the improper disposal of large numbers of them adds mercury to the environment. Mercury is also released into the environment by burning hazardous wastes or incineration of disposed materials. 40% of man-made mercury emissions is from fossil-fuel burning power plants.
To prevent the release of mercury from the lamps, it is better to recycle them and not dispose them in the solid waste. Recycling lamps helps to capture the mercury, and it can be reused.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has special regulations for the mercury-containing lamps. This eliminates excessive paperwork, alleviates transport issues, and helps keep disposal costs low. It also eases the path for lamp recycling.
Mercury collection is a robust and growing business. It was developed to collect and recycle end of life mercury lamps from commercial buildings. Retail consumers are also having their options expanded rapidly. Most local governments collect end-of-life lamps and some retailers like Ikea and Home Depot also collect the lamps. Check your local government for lamp disposal guidelines.