If you've established a recycling program in your home, chances are you've asked, "Where do I recycle light bulbs?" Light bulbs may be made of glass, but many also contain harmful chemicals such as mercury. Recycling them properly helps keep these toxins out of the environment.
Recycling Light Bulbs
There are many types of light bulbs and lamps used within the home. From fluorescent lights to projector lamps, nearly all of these bulbs contain some degree of toxic chemicals encased within the glass and metal casings. What this means for would-be recyclers is the inability to simply place the bulbs in the bin to take to the waste management facility.
While it can be tempting to simply throw away spent light bulbs, doing so can cause widespread heavy metal pollution in the environment. It only takes one teaspoon of mercury to pollute a 20-acre body of water and make it uninhabitable forever. Recycling your light bulbs properly can prevent this type of pollution.
Where Do I Recycle Light Bulbs?
No matter what type of light bulb you have rest assured that it can be recycled. In fact, many producers of recycled glass products, such as recycled glass tiles, use the glass from recycled light bulbs. Here are a few tips for finding how where to recycle your light bulbs.
Contact the Manufacturer
If you know the manufacturer of your specific light bulb, your first step toward recycling it is to give them a call. Many manufacturers have recycling programs in place for their products. A quick call can help you determine if your manufacturer accepts the spent light bulbs, and if so, what the protocol is. In a few cases you'll be sent shipping materials, but in most cases you are responsible for packaging and shipping the light bulbs yourself.
Contact Your Waste Management Facility
If you don't know the name of the manufacturer or if the company does not have a recycling program, contact your local waste management facility to inquire about light bulb recycling. Some facilities have specific days of the year that they accept products that contain heavy metals like mercury. If this is the case, you'll be asked to save your light bulbs until the time when you can drop them off. If your waste management facility does not handle light bulbs, a representative may be able to help you find a center that does.
Get a Recycling Kit
Companies such as Lightbulbrecycling.com have kits available to help you package and send your old light bulbs for proper recycling. While expensive, this option is highly effective for businesses or people who go through multiple light bulbs a year. In many states, throwing away a light bulb is an illegal activity and violators pay hefty fines.
Contact the EPA
If you are truly having difficulty in locating a way to recycle your old light bulbs, contact the EPA to find a hazardous waste recycling center near you. They can assist you in finding a center and advise you on the proper packaging and handling of light bulbs to ensure no accidental contamination takes place.
Once you've answered the question, "Where do I recycle light bulbs?" make sure you package and protect your used light bulbs on the way to the recycling center. Whether you ship them, store them or take them, handle these fragile bulbs with care. Package them securely and prevent breakage and potential contamination during transport. When recycled properly, old light bulbs can find new life as various home products.