If you have a few old burned-out light bulbs, you probably heard that you shouldn’t just toss them in the trash. You have other options to get rid of them, like recycling and proper disposal.

Recycling is an easy and responsible thing to do for many reasons. For one, recycling prevents the release of toxic materials into the environment.

Plus, old bulbs’ parts and materials can be processed and reused. Most importantly, some states prohibit throwing old light bulbs in the garbage, so that recycling might be your only option.

If you’re unsure where to recycle your light bulbs, we’re here to help! We’ve listed great places to recycle your old burned-out light bulbs. We’ve also outlined the most common types of light bulbs and how to properly eliminate the toxic materials in them.

Where to Recycle Burned-out Bulbs

So you’ve decided to recycle your old burned-out bulbs? That’s an excellent decision.

First, you must understand that recycling old light bulbs depends on location. Every state has its own rules and guidelines regarding recycling.

led and fluorescent tube lamps in a trash pile on the ground all mixed in
Understanding which type of bulbs need to be recycled is key. This is often what a job site looks like when you’re doing a bigger lighting retrofit project.

For example, states like Washington, Maine, California, Vermont, and more prohibit throwing out fluorescent lamps in the trash.

Instead, according to their laws, fluorescent lamps and tubes should be either recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste. That’s because they contain mercury.

There are many ways to recycle your old light bulbs, too—for instance, stores like IKEA, Lowes, and Home Depot offer recycling services.

You can also look for municipal safety departments that offer recycling services at set locations.

Furthermore, Batteries Plus stores accept old light bulbs to recycle for a fee. So let’s take a closer look at great places to recycle your old burned-out bulbs.

Local Retailers

Many retailers offer recycling services for pretty much everything, including electronic devices, batteries, light bulbs, and more.

However, they’re not always free of charge, so contact the store you wish to recycle at for more information.

Further, some stores recycle only specific types of light bulbs.

For instance, a store may accept CFLs but not incandescent bulbs. Here are some examples of retailers that have recycling programs for light bulbs.

IKEA

IKEA isn’t only a place where you can find furniture for your home. They also have a recycling program for batteries, light bulbs, cardboard, and more.

Angular shot of an IKEA store and an empty parking lot by daylight
IKEA will be happy to recycle your old light bulbs, and the retailer has labeled containers for various bulb types too!

IKEA takes recycling seriously, providing labeled containers for each type of light bulb to recycle them properly. That way, they ensure no toxic materials leak from the light bulbs.

Lowes

Lowes provides a recycling program for light bulbs. They accept most used light bulbs, such as fluorescent and halogen bulbs. Further, they also take in CFLs and other hazardous materials.

Lowes has specific bins for each type of bulb, and their staff will help you get rid of them in an eco-friendly manner. They even have a mail-in recycling program for large-scale businesses and institutions.

Home Depot

Home Depot has a record of recycling over 500,000 pounds of CFLs in 2020, making them one of the best retailers where you can bring your old CFLs for recycling.

In addition, some Home Depot stores also accept fluorescent and LED lamps for recycling.

The main downside of Home Depot is that they don’t accept incandescent and halogen light bulbs for recycling.

To recycle your old light bulbs at HomeDepot, go to any of their stores and find the Call2Recycle light bulb recycling bin at the entrance. Wrap your light bulbs in a plastic bag and put them in the container. The recycling service is free.

Mail-Back Services

If you don’t have a local recycling center or a retail store near you, you can always send your light bulbs for recycling through a mail-back service.

Some manufacturers sell pre-labeled recycling kits where you can put your used light bulbs to send to recycling centers.

All you have to do is seal your old light bulbs in the recycling kit and send them to recycling centers through the postal service.

Two people, shown only below the shoulders, exchange a parcel between them
Mail-back services make it convenient to recycle your burnt-out light bulbs.

The main downside of recycling through mail-back services is paying for a recycling kit and shipping charges.

You Can Buy Bulb Recycling Boxes Online

Back in my previous life, I built a eCommerce-based online commercial energy-efficient lighting distribution company. And for these projects, we’d also need to often tackle bulb recycling and correct disposal as part of the project.

I’m no longer the owner, but they have an excellent selection of bulb and lamp recycling kits that you can have delivered. These kits allow you to fill them up and mail them back to be disposed of correctly, and is a great option if you don’t have a convenient local option for lamp recycling.

Amazon also sells a number of lamp recycling kits that you can buy. You can click here to view those. The link is an affiliate link, which helps support the blog, but the prices don’t change at all.

For reference also, here are the top five bestselling lamp recycling kits on Amazon:

Bestseller No. 1
EZ on the Earth - Recycling Box for Straight Lamps – Prepaid | Mail Back Recycle Kit That Holds up to 61 x T12 Tube Lights or 132 x T8 Fluorescent Tubes - Model 40JM (4 Foot Jumbo)
  • Kit Capacity -- Easily Recycle 61 x T12 Straight Lamps or 132 x T8 Fluorescent LED lights in this 4 Foot Jumbo kit. This kit can also be used for U-bend fluorescents light, High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, and other large lamps.
  • Easy Recycling Process -- You will receive a box with a prepaid return label. Just drop your fluorescent tubes in the box, attach the label, and send for recycling - no stress or extra fees.
  • Prevention of Landfill Disposal -- Recycling makes sure that lamps don't end up in landfills. This prevents dangerous materials such as mercury from getting into the environment and helps keep our ecosystems safe.
  • Be a Part of Something Bigger -- Recycling your Lamps isn't just responsibility – it's a step towards a circular economy. By doing your part, you're helping to conserve valuable resources and lessen the demand for new materials.
  • Recycling You Can Trust -- We are certified recycling experts who share our dedication to the environment. Your lamps will be handled responsibly, reducing the negative impact of improper disposal.
Bestseller No. 2
Naitmsad EasyPak 4’ VaporShield Standard Lamp Recycling Box
  • Holds up to 28 T12, 64 T8, or 102 T5 4-foot straight fluorescent lamps.
  • Certified UN-compliant per 49 CFR-Packaging Group II and ISTA Transit Tested Certified.
  • Each container comes with the 100% recyclable box tube and two end caps, instructions, and a pre-paid return shipping label.
  • Access exclusive online features including recycling reports, container tracking, and certificates of recycling through your online account.
Bestseller No. 3
EasyPak™ 8’ VaporShield® Lamp Recycling Box
3 Reviews
EasyPak™ 8’ VaporShield® Lamp Recycling Box
  • Holds up to 15 T12, 30 T8, or 48 T5 8-foot straight fluorescent lamps.
  • Certified UN-compliant per 49 CFR-Packaging Group II and ISTA Transit Tested Certified.
  • Each container comes with the 100% recyclable box tube and two end caps, instructions, and a pre-paid return shipping label.
  • Access exclusive online features including recycling reports, container tracking, and certificates of recycling through your online account.
Bestseller No. 4
EasyPak™ Mini Battery Recycling Container
  • Holds up to 25 lbs of dry cell batteries.
  • Each UN certified container comes with a Life Latch lid, a poly liner, tie, instructions, terms & conditions, and a pre-paid return shipping label. Tape for covering battery terminals per DOT regulations also included.
  • Access exclusive online features including recycling reports, container tracking, and certificates of recycling.
  • Recycle various types of dry cell batteries include alkaline, nickel cadmium, lithium & lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride, iron, zinc carbon, silver, and Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS), as well as AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt.
Bestseller No. 5
EasyPak 4’ VaporShield Jumbo Lamp Recycling Box
2 Reviews
EasyPak 4’ VaporShield Jumbo Lamp Recycling Box
  • Holds up to 56 T12, 121 T8, or 192 T5 4-foot straight fluorescent lamps.
  • Certified UN-compliant per 49 CFR-Packaging Group II and ISTA Transit Tested Certified.
  • Each container comes with the 100% recyclable box tube and two end caps, instructions, and a pre-paid return shipping label.
  • Access exclusive online features including recycling reports, container tracking, and certificates of recycling through your online account.

Some more mail-back services include the following:

BakPak Mail-Back Recycling

Lampmaster

BulbCycle

Think Green From Home Waste Management

WasteSecure

Heritage Lifecycle

Local Waste Collection Agency

Another handy way to recycle your mercury bulbs is contacting your local waste collection agency.

Depending on your location, local waste agencies will accept a variety of light bulbs for proper disposal or recycling. Some services might be free, while others will charge a fee.

However, it’s a handy way to recycle a ton of unused stuff like CFLs, LEDs, alkaline batteries, plastic bags, cleaning supplies, and much more.

Note that every collection agency has different rules. For example, some may collect the waste once or twice a year, while others provide services throughout the year.

The back of a lime green waste collection truck parked on a residential street on a sunny day
Waste collection agencies can also take those old light bulbs off your hands.

Furthermore, some waste collection agencies only accept waste from residents.

Earth911 is an ideal service for recycling solutions. Whether you’re looking for a local waste collection agency, a local retailer, or a Mail-Back service, Earth911 will help you.

On the website, choose which material type you want to recycle and enter your ZIP code. You’ll get a ton of different places to recycle your old light bulbs.

Hazardous Materials in Light Bulbs: What You Need to Know

It’s no secret that not all light bulbs come from the same materials. Plus, they contain different hazardous substances you can’t just throw in the trash.

Here are some of those materials to be aware of.

Mercury

Mercury is a toxic material, and exposure to even small amounts of it has toxic effects on the brain, kidneys, eyes, and skin.

The WHO ranks mercury among the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern.

Many light bulbs used in household and commercial lighting contain mercury. For example, fluorescent, black lights, neon, ultraviolet, and HID bulbs contain mercury.

Broken light bulb against a black backdrop
Broken light bulbs do more than make a mess. They may contain mercury!

If you don’t properly dispose of these light bulbs, they can break. Then mercury leaks into the ground, polluting groundwater sources.

Accordingly, you should either send your old mercury-containing lamps for recycling or proper disposal.

Look for local retailers or mail-back services, or contact your local waste management agency to recycle your old light bulbs.

Lead

LED lamps are becoming more popular as they don’t contain mercury and are usually considered environmentally safe.

However, they contain lead, a neurotoxin and carcinogenic agent that can cause adverse health effects.

Even though the amount of lead in these lamps is minimal, it would be best to send them for recycling.

If you don’t wish to recycle them, wrap them in a sealable container to ensure they don’t break before putting them in your garbage.

It’s also worth noting that you should check your state’s law before throwing any lamps in the garbage. Why? Because some states prohibit it.

Where Can I Dispose of Energy-Saving Light Bulbs?

You shouldn’t toss your old CFLs in the trash, as they contain a small amount of mercury. If you don’t dispose of them correctly, mercury can end up in your landfills and waterways.

First, check your state’s CFL rules. In some states, you’re required to recycle them.

The best way to dispose of energy-saving light bulbs is to check for waste collection agencies near you. The service is usually free of charge too.

Conclusion

So whether your old light bulb is a CFL or an LED, there’s a recycling option.

All you have to do is find your local recycling center and ask. They will be more than happy to take your old light bulb and dispose of it properly.

You can also check local retailers and mail-back recycling programs.

Remember, it’s important to recycle your old light bulb. Not only because the bulbs contain hazardous materials but also take up a lot of space in landfills.

So be sure to recycle them and help keep our planet clean!

Attainable Home, LLC participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, where some of the links in our articles earn us a small commission. Feel free to use them or not, the pricing does not change either way, but it does help support the team here.

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