Disposal of Energy Saving Light Bulbs [Full Guide]

You need to get rid of your old and broken bulbs, but you ain’t sure if you can throw them in the trash bin.

Almost every country and state have its own unique recycling policy, so it’s no wonder that it’s difficult to know what to do with the bulbs.

Let’s go over what is safe to do and what you shouldn’t do. Let’s also look at what you in any circumstance should not do if you happened to break a tube light.

Disposal of LED light bulbs

Disposal of Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Your LEDs do not contain any hazardous substances that could be harmful to nature, but just like CFLs, they do have an upfront charge applied to them for recycling if it is a retrofit bulb. Still, some of the components in LED bulbs may be recyclable. So, it’s a good idea to check with your recycling company to see if they will accept your LEDs.

LEDs are next to maintenance-free and they have a super long lifespan.

You should look for the disposal rules that apply to the equipment in which they are used. Single LEDs can be disposed of in the household waste.

How to dispose of or recycle Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Did you know that CFLs contain a small amount of mercury? Because of that, it’s essential that they are collected separately for safe disposal. Though, there is no legislation that stops the public from disposing of them in their trash bin.

CFLs are energy-saving bulbs, and they contain about 4 milligrams of toxic mercury metal, and you don’t want the toxins to seep into landfill groundwater and make their way into your drinking supply. So remember to recycle them, you can usually find bins to deposit CFLs in front of home improvement stores.

Can I throw away a halogen bulb?

Halogen bulbs are not easily recycled because halogen bulbs contain gas. The common recommendation is that you throw halogen bulbs in the trash. You can put the bulb back in its container or wrap it up to avoid it from shattering.

If you don’t feel like throwing these bulbs in the trash, you can always check with your local recycling center to see if they accept any halogen light bulbs.

Can you recycle fluorescent tubes?

Fluorescent tubes are difficult and hazardous to recycle because they contain mercury.

The long and bulky tubes break easily which can make them dangerous to handle. They are considered to be hazardous waste. Fluorescent tubes are not accepted by curbside collection because of the toxicity and fragility and that makes them harmful for the environment and people who handle the tubes. Check with your local depots if they accept them, some of them do and others don’t.

What to do if you break a Fluorescent tube

Can you recycle fluorescent tubes

  • DO NOT VACUUM Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
  • Have people and pets leave the room.
  • Air out the room for 10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
  • Shut off the central air-conditioning system/heating system, if you have one.
  • Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
    • stiff paper or cardboard
    • sticky tape
    • damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes for hard surfaces
    • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic container
  • Be careful in collecting broken glass and visible powder.  Scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard.  Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any leftover small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.
    • Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

If you have questions please call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Dispose of other bulb types

How to dispose of incandescent light bulbs

You can safely throw incandescent light bulbs in the trash because they don’t contain any hazardous material. Incandescent light bulbs are recyclable, but it’s difficult to separate the materials, and because of that they are not accepted at every recycling center.

Please don’t recycle your old light bulbs with your glass bottles and jars. Light bulbs are made from different types of glass and also contain metal parts.


Where to find recycling places

In addition to your regular local collection services, several retailers and organizations in the U.S. take burnt-out light bulbs. You can search the following retailers and organizations to find a location near you, and ask about their light bulb collection options:


Home Depot

If you do not have these retailers close to you, the Earth 911 website has a search engine to help you find other disposal depots near you.