How to Dispose of Light Bulbs: The Ultimate Guide

To dispose of light bulbs, it’s simple: Incandescent bulbs can be thrown in the black trash bin, but fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs must be taken to a Solvents, Automotive, Flammables and Electronics (SAFE) center for disposal.

And while knowing how to dispose of CFL light bulbs is great.

And knowing how to dispose of LED light bulbs is great.

What about the rest of them?

If questions such as “where can you recycle fluorescent light bulbs?” and “where can I recycle light bulbs near me” have been crossing your mind, then this article is written just for you.

The comprehensive guide of how to dispose of light bulbs.

How to Dispose of Incandescent Light Bulbs


Incandescent light bulbs don’t have any hazardous materials, so you can dispose of them with your regular trash in the black bin. Simply bag them to prevent broken glass from spreading, then dispose of thoughtfully in your trash.

How to Dispose of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)


CFL light bulbs typically contain 4 mg of mercury which is toxic. Therefore, the following U.S. states prohibit CFLs from being discarded into landfills:

  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont

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And the EPA recommends you take your CFL light bulbs to a certified recycler rather than disposing of them in your trash can. All Green Electronics Recycling is a certified light bulb recycling center, and can dispose of light bulbs like CFLs. Contact us for more information about local pickup in your area.

And some major retail store locations or home improvement stores such as IKEA, Lowes, TrueValue, or Home Depot offer free disposal services for light bulbs near you.

For regular disposal of used CFL light bulbs, pack your used, expired CFLs in airtight containers to reduce the risk of breakage and contamination and put them in your black bin.

How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulb Tubes


Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury. Follow the same guidelines for disposing of CFL light bulbs.

How to Dispose of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Bulbs


LEDs are safe to dispose with your regular black bin trash. Put them in a bag to prevent broken glass from spreading then they’re safe for disposal.

And while you could simply toss them out, more than 95% of a typical LED light bulb is recyclable, and the trace amounts of hazardous substances such as lead and arsenic present mean that recycling is a great option for LEDs.

Most EPA-approved landfills and waste management companies will accept and recycle your LED light bulbs. 

How to Dispose of Halogen Light Bulbs


Halogen light bulbs are similar to incandescent bulbs and can be thrown in your black bin or general waste for disposal.
Of course, if you can find a recycling option close to you, this is the preferred option. Enquire with your local landfill or contact us for more information.

How to Dispose of Xenon Light Bulbs


Xenon bulbs are safe for regular disposal in your black bin and curbside trash collection. Bag them to ensure broken glass doesn’t spread and throw them in the trash bin for disposal with your household waste.

What makes xenon light bulbs special is that they contain xenon gas which in such small amounts is inert, so the disposal of xenon bulbs safe for you and I at home.

How to Dispose of TV and Projector Light Bulbs


Most projector and TV light bulbs contain mercury, so if you are in one of the following U.S. states:

  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Washington

You will not be able to dispose of light bulbs like these in your general trash. Follow the same guidelines as for CFL light bulb disposal, and deposit them to an authorized center such as IKEA, Lowes, TrueValue, or Home Depot. Or you can contact us and we’ll dispose of them safely for you.

When regular disposal is an option, pack your expired TV and projector bulbs into airtight containers or double bag them to reduce the risk of breakage and throw them in your black bin.

Remember, these bulbs contain hazardous materials so recycling is the preferred option for these light bulbs where possible.

How to Dispose of High Intensity Discharge (HID) Light Bulbs


High intensity discharge (HID) light bulbs should be disposed in the same way as CFL light bulbs – packed in an airtight container to reduce the risk of breakage and sent to a certified facility for proper light bulb recycling and disposal.

Early versions of the HID light bulb used combinations of mercury, metal-halide, and sodium-vapor gasses to facilitate the initial ignition of the arc of electricity within the bulb, which is why they can’t be disposed of with normal trash.

How to Dispose of Parabolic Reflector Light Bulbs


Parabolic reflector light bulbs should be treated the same way as halogen light bulbs. Put them in the replacement bulb’s packaging and you can throw them into your black bin for safe disposal.

Since they are safe to dispose, you may find a recycling option close to you at a hardware store or landfill where glass is accepted. This is the preferred option. Enquire with your local businesses or contact us for more information.

How To Dispose of Light Bulbs The Easy Way

When it comes to disposal of your light bulbs, know what you can and can’t do, and be sure you put the health of your family and the environment first and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in landfill.

Where possible, recycle your expired light bulbs at along with your other e-waste, and help us close the loop.

Like what you’ve read? We’d appreciate your share on social media to help us educate and make the world greener!

US Environmental Protection Agency

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar for Arman Mary Winter says:

    What can I do with infrared heat bulbs?

    1. Avatar for Arman Jason Townsend says:

      Hi Mary. These bulbs are similar to incandescent light bulbs and can be disposed of as such. Thanks for your question!

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