A light bulb is inevitably going to burn out. While it’s easy to replace them, there is the question of what to do with those that shuffle off this mortal coil, so to speak.
Your first thought might be to simply chuck them in the trash. The problem is that while that may work for some kinds of light bulbs, there are others that contain toxic and/or hazardous materials that can contaminate both soil and water if just dumped in a landfill. Basically, you need to know where it’s okay to toss your old light bulbs once they’ve outlived their usefulness.
Different Types of Light bulbs and How/Where to Dispose of Them
As already alluded to, light bulbs fall into two categories; harmless and harmful. There are light bulbs that simply do their jobs, provide light, burn out and can be just thrown away. On the other hand, there are light bulbs that when after they die, they can become harmful to you and the environment if improperly disposed of.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are a perfect example of the latter harmful category. The amount of mercury that CFLs contain is incredibly small – so small, in fact, that they are safe for people to use in their everyday lives – but they still need to be properly recycled and not just thrown away.
Aside from ensuring that the mercury is safely disposed of this way, recycling also guarantees that the other parts of the bulb – the glass and metal – can be collected and eventually reused. CFLs do have an upfront recycling fee though, which means that you will be charged by the recycling plant to bring your bulbs to them.
Standard Light Bulbs
Standard light bulbs are rather easy to get rid of. All you need to do is throw them in the trash. They can’t be recycled because it’s really difficult to disassemble the extremely small wires that make up the bulb’s processed glass. Processed glass is still glass though, so it might be a good idea to place old, burnt-out bulbs in some sort of packing material so glass shards won’t spill everywhere.
Halogen lamps can join their standard brethren in regular household waste. Like standard bulbs, they can’t be recycled because of the composition of their processed glass. Just as with standard bulbs, you may want to place them in packing material of some kind.
LED Light Bulb
LED bulbs don’t have any hazardous materials inside them so you can simply throw them away. There are some parts within the bulbs that may be recyclable, however, so it would be best to contact your local recycling center to see if they accept LED lights. Like with CFLs, there will be an upfront charge for them to take the bulbs.
Metal Halide Bulbs
These light bulbs should be recycled as they contain both mercury along with glass and metal parts which can be reused. There is the option of using the Lampmaster™ Metal Halide Bulb Recycling kit to properly and safely dispose of your bulbs according to EPA guidelines. You can also dispose of HID and high-pressure sodium bulbs with this kit too.
Because they contain trace amounts of mercury, these should be recycled. And as with CFLs and metal halide bulbs, the metal and glass parts can be collected for reuse.
So, that’s all we have to say about that, but we hope you’ve gotten something from reading this. Did we manage to teach you anything new?
Enjoy the light bulb tips?