If you’re already a responsible human being and recycle, or if your business values environmentally friendly operation – or both – then you’re in a favorable position and we commend you. There are things that are a part of everyday life that should be recycled, but don’t exactly fall into the process of traditional recycling, such as light bulbs.
Why? First of all, recycling light bulbs allows for certain parts and pieces of light bulbs to be reused, meaning less new materials need to be produced for new light bulbs. This lower demand for resources helps preserve the environment. Secondly, the eco-friendly recycling of light bulbs prevents the release of mercury – a chemical element that is harmful to the environment, animals, and humans – into the environment. Simply put, separating your old light bulbs from normal waste isn’t enough. It’s not too difficult or complex, though. Here’s how to properly eco-recycle your light bulbs:
Identify the Type of Light Bulb
There are many different kinds of light bulbs, but the most widely used include incandescent lamps, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), halogen lamps, LED lamps, and fluorescent tubes. To read about what makes each unique, check out this webpage. The point is that the proper eco-recycling of each type of light bulb can be anywhere from a little to a lot different, so it’s good to be able to identify yours.
Where to Recycle
The proper eco-recycling of fluorescents and CFLs requires that they’re disposed of through a recycling facility – it’s the law in seven states! This is due to their containing mercury, which is harmful to the environment and toxic to humans. “Recycling facility” is a bit vague, though. Luckily, through their website, the EPA provides information on a number of different methods and country-wide recycling facilities and organizations. Law or not, the government does a good job helping you properly recycle through its waste-collection agencies.
On the other hand, incandescent light bulbs – which don’t contain mercury – can be disposed of by simply wrapping in paper and throwing in the trash. While they can be recycled, the process of recycling incandescents requires more energy that the salvaged materials are worth from the bulb. Experts suggest that the same is true for halogens. LEDs, while not containing mercury, are worth recycling as they contain copper, nickel, and lead (useful, valuable materials).
Drop-offs & Pick-ups
In the event that none of the recycling methods above are available to you, or at least not as convenient, there are still a few suitable options. Thanks to websites like Earth911, which provides an extensive recycling database through their website, it’s relatively easy to find local retailers and hardware stores that offer free in-store recycling. Otherwise, rest assured, you can still properly eco-recycle your light bulbs from the comfort of your home or business. Many light bulb manufacturers and recycling organizations offer pre-labeled recycling kits. You may face small fees for the convenience, but it’s a worthy investment (and good karma).