Burlington Board of Health

Fluorescent Lamp and Universal Waste Management Policy


Recent studies have found that the improper disposal of fluorescent light tubes is one of the main sources of mercury entering the environment. Due to the risk to the general public and the environment, state and federal agencies have acted to regulate the disposal of fluorescent lamps and other mercury bearing articles as hazardous waste if these units are not recycled. These items have been defined by state and federal regulation as Universal Waste. State and federal Universal Waste regulations now prohibit the disposal of these items at incinerators or solid waste landfills.

In response to these findings, the Burlington Board of Health now requires local businesses to prepare a written Universal Waste Management policy. This policy should indicate how the facility will collect and recycle fluorescent lamps and other Universal Wastes generated by the facility as well as how on site personnel will be trained and informed of this practice. The facility is also required to retain records which document the collection and proper disposal of these materials.

In order to assist local businesses, the Board of Health has established a fluorescent lamp recycling program open to all local businesses. The purpose of this coordinated effort is to achieve an economy of scale so that all local businesses can obtain the most competitive pricing. This program will utilize only state or federally licensed and approved vendors. All Universal Waste can be recycled or disposed via this program. Each facility will be responsible for the cost of recycling the materials generated by their facility. Each participant will receive a bill of lading to document the proper handling/recycling of his or her materials. All facilities interested in this program are encouraged to contact the Board of Health.

Article XI, section 25.13.4 of the Burlington Hazardous and Toxic Materials Control Bylaw, authorizes this action. Failure to properly manage the disposal or recycling of fluorescent lights and other Universal Waste may be cause for the Board of Health to issue a $200.00 fine per violation per day of non-compliance. In addition, the Board of Health may also seek enforcement assistance from state and federal agencies.

For more information, please contact Todd Dresser at the Board of Health at 781-270-1956 or via e-mail at ‘tdresser@burlmass.org’.