Recycle Light Bulbs For A Brighter Future

Different styles of light bulbIt’s thought that the US spent around one billion dollars on bulbs.

This equates to approximately 2 billion lights sold each year, or 5.5 million every day. That’s a crazy amount!

But what do you do with your old ones?

With so many styles of bulbs on the market:

  • Incandescent
  • CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent)
  • Linear Fluorescent
  • LED (Light Emitting Diode)
  • HID (High-Intensity Discharge)
  • Halogen

It’s hard to know how you dispose of them correctly.The problem is some of these lights have hazardous materials inside of them, so sending them to landfill sites isn’t an option.

That’s why it’s so vital you dispose of them correctly! But how do you dispose of them correctly? And can you even recycle light bulbs?

Keep reading, and I’ll teach you how to dispose of light bulbs correctly!

Are Light Bulbs Recyclable?

Until recently, recycling your old incandescent light bulbs was challenging. The problem is it was hard to separate the wire from the glass. Which meant all the light bulbs end up in landfill site, and because glass isn’t biodegradable they stayed there.

At least they don’t contain any hazardous materials, you could chuck in your household trash, but this isn’t the best option for a few reasons. ”

Broken glass isn’t good for people that work there. And secondly you can recycle light bulbs, you need to know where.

Businesses like Home Depot are offering recycling programs for your old string bulbs. And the store Ikea is taking old incandescent lights.

Ikea light bulb recycling

You even have some mail-in recycling programs available to you. Although if you choose to send your light bulbs, it might be worth putting the bulbs in an egg box. It keeps the light bulbs secure while making their way through the postal system.

Can I Recycle LED Light Bulbs?

LED bulbLED Bulbs have become very popular with people in recent years, and it’s no surprise; especially when you look at how efficient they are.

Light Emitting Diodes are 90% more efficient than your standard incandescent bulbs.

With so many people buying them, it’s worth knowing how you can dispose of them correctly. Again LED’s do not contain any hazardous materials.

This means you can chuck them in your household trash, but this is not the best option.

Materials Recovered

LEDs are made with recyclable materials, so it’s worth checking if your local recycling center will take them. Some LED’s contain some very useful metals such as:

  • Indium
  • Gallium
  • Rare-earth element (REE)

Which is why it’s so important we try to avoid LED’s ending up in landfills. Unfortunately, there are no special programs to recycle your LED’s. But a quick google search and a couple of phone calls and you can find the closest place in your area.

Can I Recycle Fluorescent Light Bulbs?

CFL bulbCompact fluorescent light bulbs are an energy-efficient light bulb and can/should be recycled at your local drop off-center.

These bulbs should never be chucked in a typical trash can. They contain small amounts of mercury, which is a hazardous waste and should be treated like one.

Mercury exposure can also be an eco hazard for aquatic life that can contaminate our fish and seafood. To know more about this, read this article on mercury in fish: How did it get there and what to do about it.

Each bulb contains around four milligrams of the hazardous waste mercury, which isn’t as much as a compass but can still be super harmful. Any broken CFL bulbs can damage our environment, so please don’t put them in your household trash.

If you want to dispose of them correctly, then some home improvement businesses will take them off your hands; It works similarly as recycling batteries you have to take them with next time you go to the store.

The recycling CFL bulbs can come at a cost unless you’re in Washington. The state offers free recycling for up to 10 bulbs every day, these bulbs include:

  • CFL bulbs
  • Fluorescent tubes
  • HID bulb

Remember to be careful when transporting your old light bulbs; they contain hazardous waste. Which can damage your health and the community.

And if you have any fluorescent tubes, they also contain mercury and should be recycled in the same way as CFL bulbs.

fluorescent light

To find out if your CFL light bulbs contain mercury, check out the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They have a full list available on their website.

How Do You Recycle Light Bulbs?

Light bulb disposal is easy, but recycling them can be a little trickier, luckily I’m here to shine a light on the process.

The first thing you need to do is local laws. Each state will have it’s own laws when it comes to a light bulbs disposal. Once you’ve brushed up on local regulations, you should choose how you want to recycle them. There are a few choices:

  • Curbside Recycling – Check the website of the company that you recycle with. The company might take bulbs from the curbside. Although I doubt they will take CFL, it’s too risky because of the hazardous materials.
  • Retailers or recycling centerEarth 911 will help to find the closest place to you. Some retail companies will take them and batteries.
  • Mail-in recycling – The company Lampmaster will take your old lights and batteries via the mail. All you have to do is order a container, fill it, and ship it.

Wrapping It Up

There you go guys, a complete guide on recycling light bulbs, if you have any questions don’t forget to comment below. If you’d like to show your support, don’t forget to share us on Facebook/Twitter.

Just remember not to chuck away your old lights, recycle!

Finally, don’t forget about the cardboard, there’s no point spending, so your time recycling bulbs and not recycle cardboard.

If you liked this article, I’m sure you’ll love the one about recycling batteries.

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