How to Dispose of All Types of Light Bulbs

Kevin Brown

How to Dispose of Light Bulbs

While incandescent light bulbs last about 1,000 hours, modern LEDs can exceed 50,000 hours. Longer life spans reduce waste, but when your light burns out, you still need to dispose of the bulbs.

Proper bulb disposal depends on the type – some can be thrown in the trash while others must be taken to a recycling center. We’ll cover disposal and recycling methods for each type.

How to Dispose of All Types of Light Bulbs

Disposing of Incandescent Light Bulbs

In terms of energy efficiency, incandescent bulbs are less efficient than modern options. However, disposing of them is relatively simple – just throw them in the regular trash. On average, these bulbs last about 1,000 hours and do not contain any hazardous material.

Since they have only small amounts of recyclable material that are difficult to recover, incandescent bulbs are not recyclable and can be safely disposed of in regular garbage.

Disposing of LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs, also known as light-emitting diodes, function by passing an electrical current through a microchip. They are 90% more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs and have a lifespan of 35,000 – 50,000 hours.

The microchip in LED light bulbs may contain trace amounts of arsenic and lead. Some LEDS are considered hazardous waste. You need to recycle LED bulbs or take them to a hazardous waste collection site instead of throwing them in the trash.

Dispose of your LED light bulbs by bringing them to Home Depot, Lowes, or IKEA and dropping them into their recycling bins. Not all locations offer LED recycling, so check ahead.

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If you can’t find a local LED recycling program, use Republic Services’ mail-in light bulb recycling program. Select the bulb type and box size you need, then drop off your package at FedEx. The service is a bit pricey.

CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are energy-efficient bulbs that last between 8,000 and 20,000 hours. They are more efficient than incandescent bulbs but less efficient than LEDs.

CFL bulbs contain toxic mercury, so they can’t be thrown out with regular trash. Small amounts of mercury can leak from the bulbs and contaminate groundwater in landfills.

You can drop off CFL bulbs at participating True Value, Lowes, Home Depot, and Ikea stores. However, not all locations have bulb recycling drop-offs.

If you can’t find a local drop-off point, you can recycle CFLs through a mail-in program. These kits have a fee that covers shipping and recycling costs. You can find a list of mail-in CFL recycling options on the EPA’s website.

Dispose of Halogen Light Bulbs:

Halogen light bulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs and last about 2,000 hours. You can dispose of halogen bulbs by tossing them in your regular trash bin.

However, halogen bulbs contain little recyclable material, and most recycling centers don’t accept them.

Dispose of Fluorescent Tube Lights:

Fluorescent tube lights are popular in commercial spaces, garages, and workshops. These long, thin lights last about 20,000 hours before burning out.

Fluorescent lights contain toxic mercury and fragile glass. Therefore, throwing fluorescent lights in the trash is hazardous. In fact, some states have laws requiring residents to recycle these bulbs.

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