How to Recycle Old Light Bulbs After Upgrading to LEDs
You’ve taken the energy-efficient step of transitioning your home, business, or facility lighting to long-lasting LED bulbs and fixtures. Great job! Now, what should you do with the old halogen, incandescent, and CFL light bulbs that have been replaced? Don’t just throw them in the trash – many lighting products require special handling. Read on for tips on how to properly recycle or dispose of outdated light bulbs and tubes.
CFL Light Bulb Recycling
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) have been a popular choice for saving energy compared to traditional incandescents. However, these bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When CFLs break, the mercury can be released into the environment. Thus it should never be thrown in the regular trash.
Luckily, there are multiple methods for recycling CFL bulbs safely without releasing any mercury. The EPA provides a few different options for recycling old CFL bulbs:
- Check for local household hazardous waste collection events or facilities in your community that accept CFLs. Some retailers like Home Depot may also collect CFLs for recycling.
- Utilize mail-back programs from manufacturers or retailers to ship your unbroken CFLs in the original packaging or a sealed plastic bag.
- Contact your local waste management company – some companies offer CFL recycling programs with special bins.
Be sure to carefully package any used CFL bulbs to avoid breakage during transport to recycling. Visit the EPA’s guidelines for proper cleanup, and if you do break a CFL bulb at home, remember to never send broken CFLs through transport.
Other Mercury-Containing Lights
In addition to CFLs, other lighting like older fluorescent tubes, high-intensity discharge (HID), and sodium vapor bulbs can also contain mercury and other hazardous substances. Check for recycling options with your local household hazardous waste program, retailer programs, or contact the manufacturer. Like CFLs, these products should always be recycled instead of placed in the garbage.
LED light bulbs are designed to last decades, not just a few years like CFLs. However, once LEDs do burn out and are ready for replacement, they should also not be thrown in the regular trash. LEDs contain electronics and other materials that require special handling at the end of life.
For proper disposal, check with your local recycling center – some accept LED bulbs along with other electronics. You can also look into mail-back options from lightbulb manufacturers or retailers to properly recycle LED bulbs.
Incandescent and Halogen Bulb Disposal
While standard incandescent and halogen bulbs do not contain any hazardous materials like mercury or lead, they should still be recycled rather than thrown in the trash. This is the best disposal method, as glass, metal, and other components can be recovered from old bulbs. If your local recycling program does not accept incandescents and halogens, you can also explore take-back programs through retailers.
Safely Dispose of All Old Bulbs
Upgrading your lighting provides many benefits – reduced energy use, lower costs, and improved visibility. But remember, properly disposing of outdated bulbs is part of the job too. Avoid breakage and contamination by recycling CFLs, fluorescent tubes, HIDs, and LEDs. Additionally, recycle incandescent and halogen bulbs when possible.
Contact EarthTronics for assistance in selecting energy-efficient, long-lasting LED replacements!