Are Light Bulbs Recyclable?

Are light bulbs recyclable? Even long-life bulbs need replacing after several years. So, what do you do with old light bulbs? 

Light bulbs are a part of daily life. They illuminate indoor and outdoor areas, and it’s hard to imagine life without light bulbs. They are a part of daily life, and you go through an amazing amount of bulbs in a lifetime.

recyclable light bulbs

Are Recyclable Light Bulbs Recyclable?

Can you recycle light bulbs? It depends on the type. Some types of light bulbs are recyclable like halogen and incandescent bulbs. Since the bulbs are free of hazardous chemicals and other materials, you can toss them in the trash.

Throwing the bulbs away is not the same as recycling. They only end up in landfills, and light bulbs are not biodegradable.

Before putting light bulbs in a recycling bin, it’s best to call the facility. Not all recycling plants accept halogen and incandescent bulbs.

Separating the materials is a complicated process not all facilities can perform.

recyclable light bulbs

Should LED Bulbs Be Recycled?

LED bulbs are energy-efficient and do not contain harmful metals like mercury. Some do contain lead, copper, or nickel, and you don’t want these materials leaching into the ground.

LED light bulbs are recyclable, but it takes a few steps. You can’t put the bulbs in with your other glass items. Instead, you need to take them to a recycling facility.

A good tip to save time is to keep your old bulbs in a safe place. When you have several, pack the bulbs up and take them to the recycling plant. Some hardware and home improvement stores also accept old LED bulbs for recycling.

recyclable light bulbs

How Do You Dispose of Light Bulbs?

Business and homeowners have a few options when it’s time to recycle light bulbs. Instead of adding to the millions of bulbs in landfills, you can return the bulbs to a lighting or hardware store.

These stores accept your old bulbs free of charge and return them to the supplier.

Another option is finding a recycling center that accepts light bulbs. Not all do, so it’s best to call first.

Property managers and building owners can also return the bulbs to their lighting supplier. Some companies even offer rebates on lighting products to their customers participating in their light bulb recycling program.


Which Recyclable Light Bulbs Should Be Recycled?

Recycling facilities often group light bulbs into three categories. The categories denote the process necessary for recycling.

Halogen and incandescent bulbs are the easiest to recycle. These bulbs do not contain harmful metals but still require a specialized recycling process. The same also applies to long-lasting LEDs. Some LED bulbs can illuminate a space for up to 50,000 hours, but eventually, need replacing.

Fluorescent and CFL bulbs contain mercury. It is a hazardous metal, and you don’t want it sitting in a landfill.

All of these light bulbs are recyclable, but not all recycling centers have the technology for the process. You need to check with your local recycler before taking the bulbs to the facility.

recyclable light bulbs

How Do I Dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulbs?

Fluorescent light bulbs are slowly being replaced by energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED light fixtures can use up to 90% less electricity than fluorescent ones.

So, what do you do with your old fluorescent light bulbs? The best advice is to take the lighting tubes to a hazardous waste and recycling facility.

Some cities have ‘green’ events where residents can bring their hard-to-recycle items, including fluorescent light tubes. You can also search online for nearby recycling centers. Business owners and managers might be able to return the bulbs to their lighting supplier.

If you are having problems finding a recycling facility, try searching for Earth 911. You can also make a 1-800 call. Dial 800- 253-2687 (800 Clean-Up), input your zip code, and you get the address of the nearest recycling center.

recyclable light bulbs


You can recycle light bulbs, but don’t toss them in your bin. Recycling light bulbs is a bit of a process, regardless of the type.

The easiest way to recycle light bulbs and tubes is by returning them to the store or lighting supplier. It saves you time searching for a recycling center capable of processing the bulbs.

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