How To Recycle Light Bulbs
Last week I was contacted about recycling old light bulbs. What type of light bulbs were they talking referring? Were they incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes?
Monica responded she had some traditional bulbs and some compact fluorescents. And I proceeded to explain to her the proper way on how to recycle light bulbs.
I told her that the traditional bulbs she could dispose of in the trash, but the compact fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent tube light needed proper disposal because these lamps contain mercury. I explained to her that CFLs and tube lights require extra care when being disposed of.
The mercury contained in fluorescents are considered a hazardous waste. And can cause health issues as well as have an impact on the environment. It is essential when packing and disposing of fluorescent light bulbs not to break the bulbs. If a fluorescent lamp breaks, the mercury will escape and will pose a danger to anyone who might be exposed to the mercury.
And the cleanup and bulb removal requires extreme measures. I told Monica that you must wear rubber gloves ensuring not to touch the broken glass. Use cardboard to push the broken glass into a plastic bag. Don’t use a vacuum to pick up the smallest shards but use duct tape to stick to the shards that remain. Make sure the remaining glass is removed. Put the gloves, duct tape in the plastic bag and seal to ensure the pieces don’t escape.
I told her that most hardware stores supply recycling boxes and have a drop-off area. Just asked the customer service department to see where you can obtain the boxes and where the drop off point is located.
CFL (compact fluorescent light)
The CFL glass, metal, and other components can be recycled properly. Take care to place them in a plastic bag. Be careful not to break the bulbs. Seal up tightly.
Fluorescent Tube Light
Fluorescent tubes are a little more difficult to dispose of properly. Not all hardware store wish to deal with the fluorescent tube light because of the potential for breakage. They are incredibly fragile, and the tube lights are difficult to store and don’t want the responsibility of having exposed to the hazardous mercury.
The old magnetic ballast that is in the fluorescent tube fixture also contains a potential health risk. If you ever saw the black oil leaking from an old ballast contains PCB. And this type of ballast needs to be removed and disposed of with care. You don’t want the black oil to come in contact with your skin. You should use rubber gloves and a plastic bag and placed in a box. Indicating the hazard of handling this box of materials.
The newer electronic ballast doesn’t require as much care when disposed of because they do not use the PCB material inside the ballast. Electronic ballast should be placed in a box and marked clearly.
To properly dispose of fluorescent tubes and ballast just call your local recycling center for a drop off point.
Incandescent Light Bulb
Incandescent light bulbs are nearly phased out per Government regulations. The light bulbs are not recyclable and can be thrown in the trash.
Unlikely that you have any LEDs (light emitting diode) to recycle. The efficient energy LED has more significant energy savings than an incandescent bulb and the long life (20+ years) of LEDs. I still have two living room lamps that have LED 60-watt equivalent bulbs in them for about ten years now. Just in case you do have some LED light bulbs to recycle you can contact your local hardware store to find out if they will take your LED bulbs.
Replacement LED Light Bulbs
Now that the old burned out bulbs have been recycled correctly. It is time to find replacement light bulbs. It is the perfect time to convert to LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs.
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