Where to Recycle Light Bulbs

where to recycle light bulbsCompact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, save energy and money. These handy light bulbs last eight to fifteen times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Nevertheless, they will eventually outlive their usefulness leaving users wondering: Where do I recycle light bulbs?

Unlike incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs should be disposed of professionally, in order to prevent the leakage of harmful mercury. However, this doesn’t have to be a difficult chore. While initially users of compact fluorescent light bulbs had to return the dead bulbs through local hazardous waste programs, the increased adoption of CFLs has led to an explosion of available collection locations where you can conveniently recycle your light bulbs.

Possibly one of the most convenient places to rid your home of old light bulbs are at the very same stores that sell them. National retail outlets with in-store light bulb recycling programs vary from state to stay, but includes Ikea, Ace Hardware, and Home Depot. Call your local store to see if they offer a way to recycle light bulbs or perhaps special recycling days where you can bring in those dead CFLs.

If none of those locations are convenient to you, the EPA recommends storing your dead CFLs inside two plastic bags until a solution to recycle them does emerge. The EPA’s website has a guide to finding a recycling program in your area. Another resource may be the website for your cuty, which sometimes provides local information on a variety of e-waste recycling programs, including light bulbs and CFLs.

As compact fluorescent lamps become common in more and more households, the availability of recycling programs will also begin to rise. There is even talk of installing recycling boxes in every post office. Just follow the few of the tips above and you should have no problems switching to a bulb that will save you money and time, while simultaneously benefiting the environment.

Mercury Warning: Although the mercury in CFLs requires proper disposal, there’s little cause to worry about personally being harmed should the bulb break. The mercury in a CFL is elemental mercury, not the methyl-mercury power plants generate and which can cause human health problems. If the bulb does break, the Environmental Protection Agency advises consumers to ventilate the room for about 20 minutes and then sweep the pieces into a zip lock bag. Seal the bag and then recycle the broken bulb at your nearest disposal center.

About Barbara Holbrook

Barbara lives in Southern California where she writes about technology, design and smart ways to go green.


  1. We are passionate about recycling and lighting. We have a recycling program ourselves here in Seattle but more importantly, we love to answer any questions you may have about hazardous lighting or lighting in general. We know entirely to much about anything that is bright. Truly feel free to call us at any time 800.223.3808 or visit us at http://www.kelsun.com/c5110/4226/FAQ.html.

  2. ed crumbpacker says:

    Lowes recycling program is a scam (at least in Salem VA). Sometimes they take them, sometimes they don’t. Finally one woman at the customer service counter admitted that they “just pitch them in the dumpster anyway”. I’m tired of these big box stores trying to “act” green just to get customers.

  3. P Rosenbaum says:

    No answers about where to take my bulbs available…..hun

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