The Bulb Eater Lamp Crusher; Courtesy of the Air Cycle Corporation
The Bulb Eater Lamp Crusher; Courtesy of the Air Cycle Corporation

MRO stands for maintenance, repair, and operations, the “hidden” world of workers who keep things going at office buildings, factories, airports, and the like. Most of the tools used for MRO work are the same as are used in construction. But some are different; an MRO worker might drive a strange vehicle, carry unusual tools, or operate specialized equipment.

The Bulb Eater, a device used for recycling fluorescent bulbs, is one such piece of specialized equipment. I never would have guessed such a thing existed had I not stumbled across an ad for one in a newsletter about safety. We recycle fluorescents in our household (my wife makes me), but I grew up in a world where you threw fluorescent bulbs in a dumpster or put them in a trash can and broke them so they’d fit. Why we thought it was okay to break fluorescents and release mercury into the environment is beyond me, but that’s how it was before we knew better.

I don’t expect to ever operate a Bulb Eater or even see one in person. That’s okay, it’s enough for me to know how the thing works and appreciate what a clever invention it is. It probably costs a fortune, but I bet it’s cheap in comparison to storing spent bulbs and hauling them intact to a recycling facility.