Light Bulb Recycling
Light bulbs are recyclable, and certain types should be recycled to help the environment.
Recycling laws vary by state and jurisdiction, so it’s important to know the rules and regulations where you live. For instance, it’s illegal to throw away any light bulbs containing mercury in the following states: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington.
Which light bulbs can you recycle?
All types of fluorescents need to be recycled, including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and fluorescent tubes. Fluorescent light bulb recycling is important because the bulbs contain mercury.
You should also recycle HIDs, including metal halide, mercury vapor, and high-pressure sodium (HPS) light bulbs. They contain mercury, too.
Recycling is also important for other specialty light bulbs, like mercury short-arc bulbs or neon bulbs.
You can recycle other light bulbs, like incandescent or halogen bulbs, but It’s not necessary since they don’t contain mercury.
Why is recycling light bulbs important?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists two main reasons light bulbs should be recycled, especially for fluorescent and HID light bulbs.
- Fluorescent and HID light bulbs contain mercury. Mercury is a chemical element that can be dangerous if it’s released into the environment. If a fluorescent or HID light bulb ends up in the landfill, chances are it will break, and mercury will spill into the soil. Mercury becomes a problem when high levels end up in the atmosphere and water.
- Almost all parts of a light bulb can be reused, including glass and metal. This helps with overall sustainability efforts.
Some advanced recycling centers, like the partners Regency Lighting uses, are also able to recycle rare earth elements used in the phosphor coating in fluorescent bulbs. This practice adds an additional benefit of maintaining sustainability and helping to conserve materials that are in limited supply.
It might be helpful to put the light bulbs back in their original packaging, or in the packaging of the replacement bulb when you recycle them. This ensures they won’t break when you either send them off and have them picked up.
How to recycle light bulbs
Regency Lighting offers three recycling options, depending on your need.
- Need a kit for your office or work site? You can order ready-to-use packaging for recycling storage and shipment. Fill up the box (don’t break the bulbs) and send it back.
- Working on a large project? We offer bulk recycling through a national partner. This is great for routine maintenance on large buildings, re-lamping efforts, retrofit, or renovation projects.
- Live near one of our warehouses? Regency Lighting will deliver recycling containers and pick them up if you’re within a certain distance. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about this solution.