Are you searching for ways your tanning salon can go green and become more environmentally responsible? One of the easiest answers lies within your tanning bed—the lamps. The next time you relamp any equipment, be sure to recycle the spent tanning lamps. Do not assume that you can throw them in the trash.
Tanning lamps contain mercury, a metallic element that can accumulate in living tissue and cause adverse health effects in sufficient concentrations. Therefore, when a lamp is broken, crushed or dispensed in a landfill or an incinerator, there is the possibility that the hazardous element may be released into the air, surface water or groundwater.
Because of this, the majority of U.S. states consider all mercury-containing lamps to be hazardous waste and mandate that spent lamps be recycled or otherwise disposed of in a specific manner by specially certified disposal companies. Those states include California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia. Electing not to recycle in these states can result in hefty fines and cleanup costs. Be sure to check with your local Environmental Protection Agency office or a recycling company for your state’s specific regulations on recycling fluorescent lamps and the associated costs. You can visit www.nema.org/lamprecycle/support_files/stringency3.html for a breakdown of how each state’s policies compare to federal regulations.
Recently, there has been much publicity regarding TCLP-compliancy. TCLP, which stands for Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, is a lab method used to determine whether something should be classified as solid waste or hazardous waste. All fluorescent lamps contain some amount of mercury; exactly how much they contain is what determines their waste classification. Therefore, passing the TCLP testing certifies that the tested lamps have reduced the environmentally hazardous wastes (the amount of mercury) present at time of disposal to the point that the lamps can be considered solid waste instead of hazardous waste. It is important to note, however, that all major manufacturers of fluorescent lighting still recommend recycling as the best way to stop mercury contamination—simply because the lamp contains less mercury does not mean you can throw it away.
Overall, recycling is the environmentally responsible thing to do. Even beyond the fact that recycling keeps potentially hazardous mercury out of the environment, the beauty of recycling tanning lamps with a certified lamp recycling facility is that nothing reaches a landfill. Every part of the lamp is recycled—glass, aluminum and even the cardboard packaging.
This is especially important because environmental problems have become so complex that many individuals feel they can have no effect on them. That is not the case, however. These problems require more than just group, corporate or government intervention—every individual must participate in the effort if recycling is expected to work. You might think that you can’t make a difference because “they’re just tanning lamps,” but any effort to recycle saves natural resources and energy as well as creates jobs; all of which makes good business sense. When you are purchasing new lamps, make it a habit to factor in the cost of recycling the lamps when they are spent—think of it as part of the order. Making the decision up front to recycle helps to ensure that you will follow through with the practice of using and recycling all tanning lamps. oo
Bob Brown is the marketing manager for Interlectric Corp., a lamp manufacturer based in Warren, Pa. He can be reached at (814) 723-6061, ext. 130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.