hands holding an illustration of a lit bulb to demonstrate the importance of recycling

Brightening Your Impact: Sustainable Strategies for Light Bulb Disposal

hands holding an illustration of a light bulb demonstrating that recycling is important

How to dispose of light bulbs (and why it’s important)

how to dispose of light bulbs

How to dispose of light bulbs: it’s important to always dispose of light bulbs through proper channels, and to never put them in the trash! Universal waste includes hazardous waste that is mostly generated by households and many different types of businesses. It includes light bulbs (lamps), batteries, electronic waste, mercury containing equipment and more.

Properly disposing of light bulbs might not seem like a top environmental concern, but the impact of incorrect disposal can be significant. From incandescent to LED bulbs, each type presents unique challenges when it comes to safe and eco-friendly disposal. In this guide, we’ll delve into the importance of disposing of light bulbs responsibly, explore various types of light bulbs recycling, discuss disposal methods, and offer alternative options to disposal.

The Environmental Impact of Incorrect Disposal

pile of light bulbs improperly disposed of

Many people are unaware of the environmental consequences of improperly disposing of light bulbs. 4ft Fluorescent, CFLs, and LED bulbs all contain materials that can be harmful to the environment if not recycled or disposed of correctly. For example, CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, while LED bulbs may contain other hazardous materials such as lead and arsenic. When these bulbs end up in landfills, these toxins can leach into the soil and water, posing risks to human health, animal health and ecosystems.

Need help with your light bulb disposal?

How to dispose of light bulbs: recycle them quickly and easily with BulbCycle. We offer mail-back recycling kits – one fee covers all costs!

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Types of Light Bulbs and Disposal Methods

Incandescent Light Bulbs

While these traditional bulbs do not contain hazardous materials like mercury, they still need to be disposed of properly to prevent breakage and reduce waste. Incandescent bulbs can be safely disposed of in regular household waste bins.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

CFLs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs but contain small amounts of mercury. It’s crucial to handle and dispose of CFLs carefully to prevent exposure to mercury. Many hardware stores and recycling centers accept CFLs for recycling. Check out BulbCycle’s CFL recycling kit.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Bulbs

LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient option and have a longer lifespan than incandescent and CFL bulbs. While LEDs do not contain mercury, they may contain other hazardous materials. Some recycling centers accept LED bulbs, but options may be limited compared to CFL recycling programs. Fortunately BulbCycle offers an easy mail-back recycling box for LEDs. One fee covers all costs, including shipping!

comparison of sizes of tubular lamps - T12, T8, T5

Fluorescent Bulbs (also known as lamps or tubes)

It’s crucial to dispose of your fluorescent tubes properly. Fluorescent lamps, which usually come in 4 or 8 foot long tubes are referred to as T5s, T8s, and T12s, which are named based on the diameter of the bulb. Fluorescent tubes contain mercury which is hazardous to the environment and health. When you recycling your fluorescent bulbs with BulbCycle, we use a state of the art bulb crushing machine which removes the mercury from the bulbs in a contained environment, safely keeping it out of the atmosphere. We have multiple sizes of fluorescent lamp recycling boxes. The large 4ft. and large 8ft. boxes are our most popular products!

How to dispose of light bulbs of different types

BulbCycle’s mail-back recycling kits: we offer easy to use recycling kits you can purchase on our website, pack with your used waste, and send back to us. Then we recycle it for you at one of our EPA-compliant U.S. recycling facilities.

Retailer and Manufacturer Take-Back Programs: Some retailers and manufacturers offer take-back programs for used bulbs. These programs allow consumers to return old bulbs to the store or manufacturer for proper disposal or recycling. Participating in these programs not only ensures proper disposal but also encourages manufacturers to design more sustainable products.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites: Many cities have designated household hazardous waste collection sites where residents can drop off small quantaties of items like light bulbs, batteries, and paint for safe disposal. These sites typically accept CFLs and other types of bulbs containing hazardous materials.

Alternative Options to Disposal

Reusing Light Bulbs: Instead of disposing of old bulbs, consider repurposing them for other uses. For example, you can use incandescent bulbs as decorative elements in crafts or make various art pieces with them.

Safety Precautions and Tips

  1. Using Protective Gear: When handling light bulbs, especially CFLs, wear gloves and avoid touching the bulb’s surface to minimize exposure to hazardous materials.
  2. Proper Cleanup of Broken Bulbs: If a bulb breaks, take precautions to clean up the debris safely. Ventilate the area, wear gloves, and use a damp cloth to carefully pick up and dispose of broken glass and other materials. Avoid using a vacuum cleaner, as it can spread mercury vapor.
  3. Avoiding Mercury Exposure: Be cautious when handling CFLs to prevent exposure to mercury. If a bulb breaks, follow cleanup guidelines to minimize the risk of mercury exposure.

How to dispose of light bulbs

BulbCycle offers convenient mail-back recycling kits you can purchase on our website, pack with your used waste and we recycle it for you at one of our EPA-compliant U.S. recycling facilities.

1. Select your kit

Select and purchase the containers for the items you need to dispose of. Our recycling program offers kits for 4ft. fluorescent lamps/bulbs8ft. fluorescent lamps/bulbsLED bulbsCFLsballastsbatterieselectronicsmercury devices and more!

2. Receive and fill with waste

Simply pack the kit at your own pace with your waste. Each kit includes a container, all shipping fees, recycling costs and a certificate of recycling. Each container is pre-printed with simple step-by-step instructions in both English and Spanish.

You will receive your container(s) in 6-11 business days. Don’t worry, you have a full year to return them to us if you don’t have quite enough yet to fill the kit!

3. Schedule pickup via FedEx

All of our products ship with a pre-paid FedEx return shipping label. Once your container is full and sealed, call the FedEx phone number that comes on each box to schedule a pre-paid pickup, or drop it off at a FedEx location. The filled container will be delivered for recycling to one of BulbCycle’s permitted facilities located within the United States.

4. Request Certificate of Recycling

After your waste has been received and processed, you can request your certificate by logging into the website provided on your recycling kit. Please allow three weeks for processing.

Purchase Orders

If you would like to pay by invoice with net payment terms and purchase orders please ask our representatives for our vendor program forms.
Contact us here or give us a call at 858-412-6536.

BulbCycle can help. We offer mail-back recycling kits – one fee covers all costs!

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Responsible light bulb disposal is crucial for protecting the environment and human health. By following proper disposal methods and exploring alternative options, we can minimize waste, reduce pollution, and conserve valuable resources. Let’s commit to disposing of light bulbs responsibly and working towards a greener and more sustainable future for generations to come. Together, we can make a difference in protecting our planet.