If you want to help the environment and lower costs by recycling basic household materials, it would benefit you to know how to recycle light bulbs. Getting rid of these home materials safely is more complicated than it might seem. Light bulbs can be a bit challenging to recycle. Although it’s generally good to recycle whatever you can, there are some times when recycling light bulbs may not be a good idea. Here are some of the situations where recycling light bulbs can actually do more harm than good.
1. When Glass Shards are Dangerous
The danger in recycling broken glass with sharp edges is evident for all of the different glass items that you might put into your recycling bin, but it’s particularly true with light bulbs. When traditional light bulbs shatter, they often leave jagged edges. Putting these into your recycling bin without considering safety is not fair to those who have to collect recycling. Make sure to clear jagged edges before putting any glass items into bins for recycling pickup.
2. When You’re Dealing with New Vapor Bulbs
Lots of today’s more environmentally friendly light bulbs use gas vapor to conduct light. These types of bulbs may contain mercury or other harmful materials. The neat “coiled” type of bulbs called CFL bulbs are advantageous for using less energy, but they can be dangerous if they are thrown into general recycling. These types of bulbs should be separated out and taken to specific facilities that can deal with them safely.
3. Broken CFLs and Specialty Bulbs
Another dangerous time to deal with light bulbs is when these kinds of specialty vapor bulbs break, releasing gases into the immediate area. It’s important that those who use these types of bulbs understand how to clean them up safely, especially for landlords or others with responsibility for a housing property. Read up on CFLs and related technology and know how to clean up broken bulbs and dispose of them properly.
4. When You’re Unsure
If you’re not sure about how to recycle your light bulbs, especially CFLs and new lighting technologies, try to locate the right facilities for safe disposal rather than just throwing them out. Home Depot is one large retailer that is pursuing a “light bulb take back program” at many of its stores, and other stores are likely to take a similar approach. Call around and find where you can take these bulbs to get rid of them without causing a health and safety hazard.