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Fluorescent Bulb and Mercury Disposal

There are several older fixtures and products in homes that may contain mercury. Mercury poses a significant health risk to humans and the environment. For this reason fluorescent bulbs, CFLs, and mercury-containing thermometers & thermostats must be separated from household trash and properly disposed. Below are disposal instructions for some of the most common mercury containing household items. Information and a list of companies for businesses and commercial generators is listed below.

Fluorescent Lamps and Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)

Knox County residents may dispose of their household fluorescent bulbs including the small curly bulbs called compact fluorescents lamps (CFLs) at any Knox County Convenience Center. Fluorescent bulbs must be presented to the operator on duty. Operators will direct center users where to place the bulbs. All broken lamps and any bulb that does not contain mercury will be directed to the trash containers because the County only collects mercury lamps for special disposal/recycling.

Mercury Thermometers

Knox County residents may dispose of their household thermometers at any Knox County Convenience Center. Mercury thermometers must be presented to the operator on duty. Operators will direct center users where to place the thermometer. Broken thermometers with mercury leaking should be double bagged in plastic zip lock type bags in order to prevent mercury from spilling and or polluting the environment. Thermometers that do not contain mercury will be directed to the trash containers. Thermometers that have red liquid are alcohol based and may be disposed along with regular household trash. Individuals bringing mercury thermometers may exchange their mercury thermometer for a digital thermometer free of charge. The exchange only applies to mercury thermometers and they will only be exchanged one for one while supplies last.

Mercury Thermostats

Some thermostats contain mercury switches encased in a glass bulb. Older mercury switch based thermostats are increasingly being replaced with more efficient digital thermostats. Mercury switch thermostats should be properly disposed as they often contain a large amount of mercury. Knox County residents may dispose of their household thermostats at any Knox County Convenience Center. The mercury switches should NOT be removed from the old thermostat. The whole thermostat should be brought to the center intact and must be presented to the operator on duty. Operators will direct center users where to place the thermostat. Broken thermostats with mercury leaking out should be double bagged in plastic zip lock type bags in order to prevent mercury from spilling and or polluting the environment. Thermostats that do not contain mercury will be directed to the trash containers.

Other Residential Disposal Options

The City of Knoxville Household Hazardous Waste Facility (HHW) also accepts mercury, mercury bulbs, mercury thermometers, and mercury thermostats for proper disposal from residents. Business or commercial generates cannot use the Household Hazardous Waste facility. Information for businesses and commercial generators is listed below.

Businesses and Commercial Generators

Knox County Solid Convenience Centers do not accept waste from businesses, commercial institutions, or nonprofit organizations. Convenience Centers are only for residential waste disposal. Individuals with large amounts of mercury containing items will be questioned to determine whether they are bringing commercial waste. Business’s with mercury containing waste must dispose of their mercury containing items by paying for proper disposal from a universal or hazardous waste company. Below is the contact information for companies that process lamps/bulbs as well as a listing of  hazardous and universal waste companies.

Commercial Lamp/Bulb Processors:

Hazardous/Universal Waste Companies:

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Solid Waste Administrative Office


Phone: 865-215-JUNK (5865)
Fax: 865-215-5820

Solid Waste administrative Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Department Email