This past spring and summer I researched the dismal recycling rate of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) by Maine households. In Maine, it is illegal to dispose of used CFLs, mercury has been a dominant environmental issue in Maine for the past few decades, and there is a free collection system. According to Efficiency Maine, the agency responsible for subsidizing the sale of CFLs, and offers the free collection system, statewide they collect about 335 per month compared to selling 30,000 to 40,000. So, my research question was simple, why such a low recycling rate? Based on 520 responses to an online survey, only 23.5% households claimed they recycled, given social desirability bias the number is probably too high. And, because of response bias, the reported recycling rate is much lower if it was truly representative of the state. Regardless, 76.8% of the respondents stated that they knew CFLs contained mercury including many of those who disposed of CFLs. Moreover, historically, Maine has one of the most aggressive and comprehensive mercury control programs and has been a pioneer in e-waste recycling, thermostat bounties, mercury button cell bans, and now CFL recycling (Maine is the first state to pass an extended producer responsibility law for household CFLs). What does this all mean? Maine mass media, public officials, and NGOs have been very successful in communicating the environmental dangers of mercury, the state has had broad public support in aggressively limiting environmental mercury, and the public has supported taxpayer spending on mercury control. Yet, in spite of broad public support and knowledge, individuals have acted contrarily by throwing mercury in the trash. It is especially significant because Maine has the highest incineration rate in the country and mercury’s primary route of concern is via the atmosphere. Is this a free rider problem? Has communication focused too much on producer responsibility and has been ineffective with individual responsibility? Or, because of the perceived cleanliness and effectiveness of our recycling system, such as the single sort approach, do people mistakenly believe or want to believe that throwing CFLs in the trash is not bad. I do not know what the answers are, and they are, as often is the case, probably multi-factorial. But if anyone has any thoughts, please share. It does, however, suggest that communication must be more than merely educational but targeted toward a specific desirable action, a components of social marketing.