Energy-saving light bulbs are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills. But what do you do when they burn out? Recycling energy-saving bulbs is the best way to dispose of them, but it can be confusing to know how to do it properly. In this article, we'll explore the different types of energy-saving bulbs, how to recycle them, and where to find local recycling centers. The most common types of energy-saving bulbs are Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), and Halogen bulbs.
CFLs and LEDs are the most energy-efficient and cost-effective options, while Halogen bulbs are the least efficient. Each type of bulb is recycled differently, so it's important to know which type you have before disposing of it.
CFLs: If your state or local environmental regulatory agency allows you to discard used or broken CFLs in regular household waste, seal the bulb in a plastic bag and place it in the outdoor trash for the next normal garbage collection. Alternatively, many recycling centers accept CFLs for recycling.
LEDs: The first step in the recycling process is to send the LED bulbs through a shredder, which breaks their components. The individual pieces of glass and metal are then processed using magnetic separators or classifiers, depending on the installation.
The metal components of LED lights are the most valuable, so that's what most LED light recyclers are looking to save.
Halogen Bulbs: Most recyclers do not accept incandescent bulbs because the energy needed to recycle them is not worth the material recovered. Including a halogen bulb in the glass recycling bin could ruin an entire batch of recyclable glass materials. Households can also contact the solid waste management authority in their city or county to determine if there are household hazardous waste collection facilities or events in their community where hazardous waste lamps are collected, or to contact local lamp recyclers to see if they accept lamps from homes. Many communities don't accept these bulbs in their recycling program, which means that most people throw away burnt bulbs in the trash, by default. In fact, some types of light bulbs must be recycled when they are thrown away, as they filter chemicals harmful to the environment into soil and groundwater.
Many municipalities recommend throwing halogen bulbs in the trash instead of recycling them. Recycling instructions vary from place to place, so check with local recycling and waste collection offices (see the list of deposits at the end of this publication). Although halogen bulbs are mostly made of glass, you can't put them in the glass recycling bin. Most energy-saving light bulbs are accepted at major recycling centers. Residents can find their nearest recycling center by visiting Recycling Near You.
Publicly traded recyclers and companies that manage mercury-containing lamps are in no way backed by the DEC and are only offered as a courtesy to the public. If you're looking for local recycling facilities or information on regulations specific to your country, go directly to the list at the bottom of this post. For city-specific information on how to properly dispose of light bulbs, visit the Recycle Coach home page and type in the city or municipality where you live. Many retailers in Canada have recycling programs that accept burnt out light bulbs.