How to Dispose of Light Bulbs, and Where to Recycle Them
Recycling light bulbs isn’t only recommended for safety, it’s also important for the environment. In our efforts to reduce waste and minimize our environmental footprint, recycling light bulbs is a crucial step. Light bulbs can’t go into your blue bin, but they’re easier to recycle than you may think.
Why to Recycle Light Bulbs
Properly recycling light bulbs is crucial as they may contain hazardous materials like mercury. Inadequate disposal — like tossing them in with your trash —can harm the environment, water sources, and human health.
Proper light bulb recycling not only ensures a safer environment for the people and the planet, it ensures that materials like glass, metals, and plastics can be used again and again.
How to Recycle Light Bulbs
Whichever type of light bulb you're recycling, here are some important safety tips:
- Wait until the bulb cools down completely before unscrewing it.
- Keep bulbs intact whenever possible to prevent the release of hazardous materials.
- Handle broken bulbs with care. Open windows for ventilation when handling broken bulbs that are not LED, and it’s a good idea to wear gloves.
- Wrap the bulb in newspaper or place it in its original packaging to prevent breakage during transportation.
- Always check with your local recycling center or municipality for the most accurate and up-to-date information on light bulb recycling in your area. See below for some recycling options.
Where to Recycle Light Bulbs
Always confirm local guidelines to ensure proper disposal.
1. Local Recycling Centers
Most municipalities have recycling centers that accept fluorescent tubes, CFLs, and other bulbs.
2. Home Improvement Stores
3. Hazardous Waste Facilities
Many areas host hazardous waste collection events where you can safely dispose of bulbs containing mercury. Use the EPA's website to find a national list of hazardous waste recyclers.
4. Mail-In Programs
Some organizations provide mail-in recycling kits for CFLs and fluorescent tubes.