Close Subscribe

Get the Weekly Recap!!

Get recaps, exclusive offers, stories and discounts. We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise.
CFL, LED, Halogen & more: Where to recycle all kinds of light bulbs
Recycle

CFL, LED, Halogen & more: Where to recycle all kinds of light bulbs

Not sure what to do with your light bulbs? Here’s a comprehensive guide for how you can recycle every kind of light bulb in your home. 

There are a million different kinds of light bulbs on the market.  

Greener options have become available, but with more variety comes more complicated recycling practices. You can’t just throw a light bulb in your home recycling bin — you’ll need to locate a special bin for the specific kind of bulb. While some light bulbs must always be recycled, others need to be thrown out or upcycled.

Let’s explore different kinds of light bulbs and how you can recycle the ones in your home. 

The 411: Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are a popular choice, especially for those trying to conserve energy. These bulbs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs! Unfortunately, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which can be harmful to the environment if improperly disposed of. In fact, many states have made it illegal to place CFLs in the trash. The good news is that their mercury content makes them a recycling priority, so many recycling options exist for CFLs.  

Where to recycle compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)

The easiest, free year-round option for CFL recycling is to take your bulbs to a local hardware or home goods store. Ace HardwareLowe’sHome Depot, and some True Value stores have CFL recycling bins — call ahead to ensure that your local store currently has a bin. Some stores may have restrictions on daily recycling quantities, so make sure to check before you go. Batteries Plus also offers CFL recycling, though fees may apply. 

Another option for CFL recycling is to register for one of your county’s hazardous waste collection events. You’ll need a car to participate, and they require advance registration, but this is another easy and free option for all county residents. Philadelphia county offers several events a year, and you can find more information and sign up here.  

If you prefer to mail in your bulbs, you can do so (at a cost) with Republic ServicesEZ on the Earth, or Lamp Master. 

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are newer than CFLs, but they are even more energy-efficient. These bulbs can last more than 10 years, meaning you’ll rarely need to replace them. The only problem is that recycling options for LEDs are minimal. Since LEDs gained popularity within the last decade, the vast majority of LEDs installed in homes have not reached the end of their lifespan yet, meaning that there is much less demand for recycling. While LEDs do not contain mercury like CFLs, they can contain lead, nickel, aluminum, and even trace amounts of arsenic, meaning that recycling these bulbs is best whenever possible. 

Where to recycle LEDs

Unless you’re getting rid of your old LED Christmas lights, there aren’t currently any free LED recycling programs in Pennsylvania. However, there are still several options if you’re willing to pay recycling fees. To recycle in person, you can take your bulbs to Batteries Plus. If you’d prefer to mail in your light bulbs, you can purchase a recycling kit from Lamp Master or Republic Services to receive a box to ship your ready-to-recycle bulbs in. 

Halogen Light Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are most commonly used outdoors as flood lighting or with indoor track lighting. These bulbs are a type of incandescent bulb which uses halogen gas to increase their efficiency and lifespan as compared to typical incandescent bulbs, but they definitely don’t measure up to CFLs or LEDs. As with LEDs, halogen bulbs are more difficult to recycle, mainly because they are thought to be safe for disposal in landfills.  

Where to recycle halogen light bulbs

Like LED lights, halogen bulbs cannot currently be recycled for free in Pennsylvania. You can take your old halogen bulbs down to Batteries Plus for paid in-person recycling. 

The 411: Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs, once the go-to variety of light bulb in the U.S., are going out of style. These bulbs are far less energy and cost efficient than other kinds of bulbs. While we wouldn’t recommend that you use this type of bulb, there’s a chance you still have some laying around.  

Unfortunately, incandescent bulbs have become quite difficult to recycle in recent years. These bulbs are completely safe to throw into the trash, and because demand is low, there is less incentive for companies to offer costly recycling programs.  

Where to recycle incandescent light bulbs

As with all other bulbs on this list, you can drop off old incandescent bulbs at Batteries Plus for a fee. Another option is to buy a recycling kit from EZ on the EarthLamp Master, or Republic Services

If you can’t recycle your incandescent light bulbs, have no fear — these bulbs are perfect for upcycling! Since they don’t contain any toxic metals, incandescent bulbs are ideal for craft projects such as light bulb ornaments, terrariums, and more. Most light bulb crafts require you to hollow out your bulb, so you can follow this tutorial to learn how. Be sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear when gutting the bulb in case the glass breaks.  

What to do if you can’t recycle your light bulbs

It’s always best to recycle your light bulbs if at all possible (and absolutely necessary to recycle CFL bulbs). However, if you must throw them in the trash, make sure to place the bulb in a container — preferably its original packaging — to prevent the glass from breaking. If you’re looking for a replacement bulb, consider choosing LEDs. Not only are they the most sustainable option, but you also probably won’t have to replace them again any time soon!

Cover image courtesy of Public Domain Images.


Become a Supporter!

If you love what we do you can support our mission with a one-time or monthly contribution.
array(4) {
  [0]=>
  object(WP_Term)#5377 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(1899)
    ["name"]=>
    string(4) "CFLs"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(4) "cfls"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(1909)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(2)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [1]=>
  object(WP_Term)#5341 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(479)
    ["name"]=>
    string(6) "lights"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(6) "lights"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(482)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(3)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [2]=>
  object(WP_Term)#5380 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(3204)
    ["name"]=>
    string(7) "Recycle"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(7) "recycle"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(645)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(108)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [3]=>
  object(WP_Term)#5394 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(1848)
    ["name"]=>
    string(21) "Where Can I Wednesday"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(21) "where-can-i-wednesday"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(1858)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(205)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
}
Sophie Brous
Sophie Brous is an editorial intern at Green Philly. Born and raised in NYC, she now attends Haverford College, where she majors in linguistics. When she's not writing, she can be found exploring cities, making arts and crafts, and finding ways to live a greener lifestyle. View all posts by Sophie Brous

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Green Philly

Featured
In These
Great Spots: