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On Saturday Wal-Mart stores across states to offer receptacle to get rid of old fluorescent light bulbs

WILLMAR -- Wal-Mart stores across the state will be housing receptacles Saturday for the community to safely dispose of their burnt-out fluorescent light bulbs and fluorescent lamps for free.

Each receptacle will be fitted with a VaporLok foil bag. The bags, designed by VaporLok Products LLC of Mankato, prevent people from coming into contact with mercury vapors from broken fluorescent bulbs.

They are the only containers available that meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for mercury disposal, according to a press release from VaporLok Products LLC.

The Waste Management Company's WM LampTracker program will provide secure shipping of the collected light bulbs to a recycling facility in Union Grove, Wis., owned by Mercury Waste Solutions Inc.

Mercury Waste Soluctions' Web site says up to 99.999 percent of the mercury is extracted and disposed of safely, in accordance with state and federal regulations for mercury disposal.

Mercury is considered a universal waste according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site. Batteries and pesticides also fall into this category. T

hese are elements that could harm humans and the environments if disposed of in a landfill.

Because of the health and environmental risks with these products, they are disposed of differently than other garbage and should always be disposed of properly.

According to a press release, Wal-Mart changed its corporate policy in May to only sell Energy Star-certified fluorescent light bulbs in its stores. This requires that all light bulbs sold in Wal-Mart stores contain less than five milligrams of mercury -- enough to cover the tip of a ball point pen, according to information from the federal Energy Star program. Energy Star-approved fluorescent light bulbs also use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last 10 times longer.

For local disposal, the Kandiyohi County Regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Willmar also accepts fluorescent light bulbs from residences and businesses for a 50-cent fee per bulb. High-intensity bulbs carry a $1 recycling fee, according to Carol Schmiesing, the facility's regional manager.

The facility also accepts residential mercury-containing products for disposal, such as thermostats and thermometers.

Schmiesing estimates that in 2006, the Household Hazardous Waste Facility shipped out nearly 20,000 fluorescent light bulbs for recycling that were accepted from the public.

The free disposal at Wal-Mart stores is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.