LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs are extremely energy-efficient, allowing you to illuminate your house while being environmentally friendly. LED light bulbs will provide 30,000 to 50,000 hours of lighting while using a fraction of the energy that incandescent light bulbs use.
However, even these light bulbs will not last forever, and if you want to be environmentally responsible, you must know how to dispose of LED light bulbs properly.
How Can I Properly Dispose of LED Light Bulbs?
There isn’t a solution that works for everyone. Before throwing your old lights in the garbage, familiarize yourself with your local regulations, as the right way to get rid of LED bulbs varies from region to region. But, here are the most common ways to get rid of your LED light with no hassle.
Recycle the Bulbs
LED light bulbs are usually constructed of glass, copper, aluminum, and plastic, making recycling even more essential for these non-renewable elements to be collected and reused. Fortunately, this means they are economical and quite simple to recycle.
LED lights are processed in a machine that separates the various elements during the recycling process. To separate the components into metal, glass, and plastic, facilities commonly utilize an Eddy Current Sorter, occasionally with a magnet to extract metals.
The recycling facility will collect the aluminum and copper bits since they are the most precious materials and may be sold to be converted into new items. To collect the valuable metals included in the circuit boards, they are dissolved using heat or chemical extraction.
Plastic and glass will be recycled separately if possible; otherwise, they will be disposed of in a landfill.
However, most towns do not take light bulbs, even LEDs, as part of their recycling scheme. Contact a local sanitation agency first, and then locate a recycling facility that takes LED light bulbs in your neighborhood.
Recycling LED light bulbs: A Step-by-Step Guide
Enquire with your local municipality if they take LED light bulbs for recycling. Although they are unlikely to take these goods curbside, they may offer drop-off sites or pick-up dates for LED bulbs.
If not, utilize an internet search engine such as Earth911.com to locate a recycling site near you that accepts this item. Input your zip code and the sort of material you wish to recycle into the tool. For example, search for “LED light bulbs,” and it will show you the nearest recycling sites that take them.
If you want to recycle your LED light bulbs through your local government or a recycling facility, ask them how you should prepare this item before placing it out for recycling or dropping it off at the center.
Several facilities request that you wrap each bulb individually in its own plastic bag to ensure worker safety and prevent breakage. They always accept intact bulbs, but they might also allow damaged bulbs.
After preparing the bulbs by these guidelines, deliver them to the recycling facility.
Use these options if you can’t recycle your old LED bulb through your municipality or a recycling center:
- Ask large-format retailers in your region whether they have a recycling program for light bulbs. Depending on your location, Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, and True Value Hardware accept LED light bulbs that they will then ship for recycling.
- Check to see if there is a Batteries Plus store nearby. Several outlets of the company accept used LED bulbs for recycling. However, they typically demand a fee.
- Try your neighborhood hardware shop; they occasionally accept LED bulbs, although they charge a fee.
Donate the Light Bulbs
Do you have good-condition unused LED light bulbs that you don’t need around the house? You could have a drawer full of these bulbs that you’ll never use because of their lengthy lifespan.
In this situation, giving them away to a good home is preferable to attempting to recycle them. Find out whether your close friends, relatives, or neighbors might need them.
Inquire with the nearby charities to see if they require any LED lights; many will be grateful for any form of donation. Try your local Goodwill, homeless shelters, or organizations that assist those sensitive to light.
Given that LED lamps release extremely little UV, they would make a suitable contribution for those with lupus and photosensitivity. The UV released by other types of light can make people with these disorders more sensitive, resulting in dry eyes, headaches, and even rashes and blisters.
You may also list your LED lights on Freecycle or send them to HolidayLEDs.com, which will transform them into Christmas lights.
Repurpose the Bulbs
Utilizing LED lights for other purposes instead of throwing them in the trash is a fantastic additional solution. Here are some concepts for imaginative uses of outdated LED lights:
- Utilize functional LEDs to create festive lights.
- Utilize them as aquarium lighting in your home.
- Make a light sculpture similar to this one to repurpose used paper towel rolls!
Put them in the Garbage
As a last option, you should never throw out LED light bulbs since doing so will send them to a landfill where the harmful metals they contain can poison the soil and seep into the water table.
Having said that, depending on your location, you might be able to dispose of LED lights and other household garbage lawfully. While some local governments allow this type of waste in their ordinary garbage, other regions have restrictions that require recycling LED bulbs or bringing them to a specific location.
You should always verify the local regulations with your municipal council or local sanitation agency.
For everyone’s safety, handle LED light bulbs properly if you must dispose of them in the garbage and make sure it’s permissible. To avoid breakages, wrap them tightly in a newspaper or another similar material to prevent them from shredding your garbage bag or injuring anyone handling it.
How durable are LED light bulbs?
The typical lifespan of an LED light bulb is 50,000 hours. This outlasts conventional incandescent light bulbs by more than 40 times; they only have a lifespan of 1,200 hours.
To put these numbers into perspective, 50,000 hours of light equals eight hours every day for a startling 17 years. Your LED light bulbs will likely last even longer because eco-conscious consumers will likely put their lights on for fewer than eight hours a day, especially if you’re using solar lighting options.
Since many of the LED light bulbs made up to this point have such a long lifespan, they don’t add to the enormous amounts of household garbage disposed of in landfills yearly. LED lights do eventually stop working, despite their extraordinary longevity. So, you must know how to dispose of them when this happens.
Due to the low number of LED light bulbs currently entering the waste stream, this characteristic is also to blame for the lack of knowledge on recycling them. As more LEDs reach the end of their useful lives and are recycled, recycling them will undoubtedly become simpler.
Are LED Lights Hazardous Household Waste?
LEDs are free of mercury, which is found in CFL bulbs. But, all electric equipment contains dangerous materials such as arsenic, lead, nickel, and silver.
These earth metals are essential for the performance of most electrical equipment, but in high doses, they are toxic to humans.
Lead, for example, is a well-known neurotoxin that can be lethal, particularly in children. Nickel can harm the lungs and possibly cause cancer. The toxic effect of arsenic can be deduced from its popular nickname, “The Poison of Kings.“
Sure, it’s dangerous stuff, but do you need to be concerned?
No, I don’t believe so. For one thing, they’re all safely contained within the bulb.
The only risk an LED bulb poses is if it breaks, which doesn’t happen often enough when it’s screwed into the ceiling for you to be concerned about.
Surprisingly, low-intensity red LED bulbs have the highest level of toxicity. The scientists assigned it a score of 79 out of 100, with 100 being the most toxic a bulb can be.
A white LED bulb received a 30. I’m sure you’d agree that most homes use the latter type of bulb, implying that most homes have relatively safe products lighting up their homes.
Even if dangerous substances are included in LED light bulbs, the level is quite low, so you shouldn’t worry. Just be sure to take additional safety measures if an LED bulb breaks.
According to the American government, recycling is not required. However, the risks of disposing of these bulbs with your usual trash have been proven by science to cause environmental harm. So recycling them is your best option.