How to Dispose of Light Bulbs

Every home has lots of light bulbs, but nobody wants to be storing them indefinitely. However, many people don’t know how to get rid of them in an environmentally friendly manner, or they’re confused about the best way to dispose of different kinds of bulbs.

How to Dispose of Light Bulbs

Here are some tips on getting rid of the light bulbs you don’t need anymore in an eco-friendly way that will keep your family safe.

Check Your Local Rules

If you’re going through your attic and find an old burned-out bulb, you may want to save it for posterity. If that’s true, don’t toss it in with your regular garbage—it can release mercury vapor and contaminants into your local environment, potentially harming children and wildlife.

Instead, check if you have a hazardous waste collection point where you live. If so, drop off your mercury-containing or CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs in a sealed box or bag when they burn out.

Some hardware stores also accept CFLs as part of their recycling program. You can probably use a map tool to find where you can safely dispose of these items near you!

Take Out The Glass Part First

Remove and discard all broken glass. Break off any remaining pieces of glass at each end of a clear, empty light bulb tube. Be careful not to cut yourself when breaking off and disposing of glass.

Discard broken glass carefully, as some pieces may still be sharp. If you have trouble removing a broken-off piece of glass from an intact light bulb, use pliers or tweezers. Do not touch or try to remove the intact glass with your bare hands.

Broken or otherwise damaged fluorescent tubes should be disposed of following local regulations for hazardous waste disposal. Contact your local government environmental agency or solid waste management facility for more information on proper disposal methods.

Where to Dispose of Light Bulbs

It may not be obvious, but there are several options for what to do with an old bulb. First, check with your local recycling center—they might be able to take them back and recycle them.

Next, you can donate your used fluorescent light bulbs (and their packaging) to a community center or organization in need; they’ll be grateful for some free lighting.

Finally, consider taking your old lighting products along when you go shopping next time; Home Depot even has a program where they will give you $1 per bulb (up to 20).

Drop off as many as you like at any participating store if you have more than that. It’s a win-win: You get rid of old lights without throwing them away, and Home Depot gets to keep its lights out of landfills too!

Always Take Them In Person

While you may have a recycling bin in your garage, there’s no substitute for taking recyclables in person. Some cities and municipalities limit where you can place certain items curbside, making them more challenging to retrieve.

All items should be taken directly to local recycling centers (located at transfer stations) or your local hardware store. With compact fluorescent lights, in particular, taking them directly is vital since a bulb could potentially break while being transported by mail—and we don’t want that nasty mercury floating around!

If a bulb breaks in transit, it’s also challenging for anyone else to clean up if they are not used to dealing with broken CFLs.

And finally, never put any of these items into trash bags that will sit outside waiting for pickup; if they get wet, they will become useless trash and contaminate other materials.

When it comes time to toss these bulbs out with the regular household waste, wrap them securely before placing them into an outdoor garbage container.

Wrapping prevents the broken glass from escaping during collection and helps protect workers who handle our garbage from accidental cuts on sharp edges. Regarding what types of bags are acceptable, there are no fundamental rules here. It just depends on what type of container your local waste facility uses.

Incandescent Lights Are Not Accepted Everywhere

We have a few suggestions if you’re trying to find a place that accepts used incandescent light bulbs. Home Depot takes them at its stores (for a small fee), as does Lowes.

If those aren’t an option, try local community centers and fire stations. Many accept used CFL and LED lights for recycling purposes. Check with your city or county government as well. Many take back old bulbs and can tell you where you can recycle them in your area.

Fluorescent Lights Need Special Recycling Facilities

If you’re wondering if light bulbs can be recycled, the answer is yes. But it also depends on the type of light bulb. Light bulbs are filled with mercury, a toxic heavy metal that can cause health problems.

Old fluorescent lights need to be disposed of carefully, as they contain mercury vapor released into the air when broken. Because fluorescent lamps also have phosphor powder, care should be taken when cleaning up any debris or dust from broken lamps to prevent respiratory problems from inhaling these tiny particles.

To safely dispose of fluorescent light bulbs and ballasts, contact your local recycling facility for more information on proper disposal methods.

What is The Best Way To Dispose Of An Electric Bulb Class 6?

LEDs are much more efficient and don’t contain mercury like many fluorescent or incandescent lights. So, in some ways, they are better for the environment than other bulbs. But that doesn’t mean you can throw them in with your regular garbage.

You can recycle compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, but not all municipalities accept them. You can find out if your area recycles CFLs by contacting your city government or utility company.

Most CFLs use a small amount of mercury, so recycling is important because it keeps toxic chemicals out of landfills and from entering water bodies when they’re thrown away into trash bins as waste materials.

Can Light Bulbs Go in the Garbage Bin?

Do not discard compact fluorescent light bulbs in household trash. Incandescent and halogen lamps can contain a small amount of mercury, breaking down into toxic vapors when heat exposure.

Never burn incandescent or halogen lights, even if broken. Because these materials are dangerous for your health and anyone who might handle them at a landfill, it’s best to separate them from other household waste.


Make sure you dispose of your broken or burned-out light bulbs properly. If you throw them in the regular trash, they can hurt wildlife and pollute landfills. Instead, search for a recycling center in your area that handles these types of materials, or contact your local government office for more information on what to do with household hazardous waste.

When you’re ready to replace old lighting with new energy-efficient LED products, ask about special programs and incentives in your area; many utilities provide rebates for residents who choose LED products.

As more people switch from traditional incandescent and fluorescent lights, we’ll all benefit from lower electrical bills and less pollution contributing to climate change.

Leave a Comment