Wal-Mart’s CFL Paradox

Home Depot recycles compact fluorescents. Why not Wal-Mart?

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Consumer Retorts

Wal-Mart’s CFL Paradox

Home Depot recycles compact fluorescents. Why not Wal-Mart?

WAL-MART has taken the lead (and the credit) in promoting compact fluorescent lightbulbs. More than 260 million have flown off its shelves since November 2006. But what about taking back used bulbs, which contain enough mercury to qualify as hazardous waste? Home Depot lets customers hand over spent CFLs at the returns desk, while IKEA has on-site disposal bins. For its part, Wal-Mart has invited customers to bring in their old bulbs just once—on a single day in 2007. Its website doesn’t mention that the bulbs require special disposal or that they contain a neurotoxin that escapes if they break, say, in your kitchen trash. Spokesman Greg Rossiter says there are no collection plans in the works, “but if someone did have a bulb to recycle, we could direct them to a local location.” The company notes that it’s made suppliers cut the mercury in their bulbs by as much as a third. It also says its goal is to “create zero waste”—so why not start here?

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