Recycling Odd Items: Light Bulbs

Recycling Odd Items: Light Bulbs

I realize that it can be difficult to remember what you can and cannot recycle. In this blog post, I’ll focus on light bulbs – not all of which can be recycled.

First, I always recommend checking with your county to see if certain lights can be recycled in your curbside bins or need to be thrown in the trash, or if you must bring them into recycling centers for proper disposal. Here’s a general breakdown by type:

Incandescent Light Bulb

Incandescent: These bulbs are less popular now, as they do not last as long as LED or Fluorescent light bulbs. These bulbs can be throw in the trash.

LED Light Bulb

Light Emitting Diode (LEDs): These do contain heavy metals, but they are not toxic. LEDs will last a lot longer than incandescents or CFLs, but they also cost more (although the price is coming down). In fact, many Christmas lights are now LEDs. These bulbs can be thrown in the trash, or recycled through a third party facility (like a hardware store).

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL)

Compact Fluorescent (CFLs): There are a few types, the compacts and then the larger fluorescent tubes. These contain mercury (a toxic substance) so they need to treated as Hazardous Waste and taken to your local Hazardous Waste facility. Many communities are starting to offer pick-ups of household hazardous waste by appointment. They just started offering this in my county (San Mateo), which I was very pleased to learn.

Circular Fluorescent Tube

Fluorescent Tube

Many hardware stores will accept LED or CFL light bulbs for recycling. Earth911 has a great recycle search feature for your area.

Lauren Mang
  • Panel
    Posted at 02:06h, 06 May Reply

    Although LED lights contain heavy metals they are not toxic as long as we dispose them correctly after usage. They can be thrown in the trash or given to companies that provide recycling services for free just as for the batteries. LED production is increasing more and more every year and becoming slowly a part of many households and offices. It is the much safer, more sustainable and efficient solution.

    • Lauren
      Posted at 20:55h, 09 May Reply

      Thank you so much for your feedback! This is very helpful.

  • Charlie @ LED Menus
    Posted at 04:25h, 22 July Reply

    Nice article, Lauren! This is a good read on bulb recycling.

    • Lauren
      Posted at 18:01h, 13 October Reply

      Thank you Charlie! I find myself referencing it often with clients. Why is it so hard to remember what lightbulbs you can recycle, which you should toss, and which must be surrendered as household hazardous waste?! Thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to comment.

  • Thelma Brooks
    Posted at 05:07h, 03 December Reply

    Fantastic information. Thank you soooo much for sharing it. I gathered at home a box with bulbs which I didn` know what to do. Now I know. Greetings!

    • Lauren
      Posted at 11:14h, 12 December Reply

      My pleasure Thelma! So glad you found the information helpful.

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