It looks like a psycho robot from a 1950s sci-fi flick, but a monster machine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, only mauls and munches old fluorescent light bulbs—not humans.

As part of a scheme to slash consumption and costs, the school is retrofitting all light fixtures with energy-efficient lamps. The change has left behind scores of unusable fluorescent bulbs that, because they contain difficult-to-recycle glass and mercury, can't just be Dumpstered.

The university's space-age machine “eats” the discarded bulbs, crushing the tubes, filtering out the mercury, and storing the glass for disposal. This prevents mercury liquid and vapor from leaking out of landfills and into the water supply.

The only drawback: The glass from the trashed bulbs can't be mixed with regular clear glass in recycling. The university is hunting for a recycling vendor to take the problem glass off its hands.