What’s the best way to dispose of your light bulbs?

Due to their extra life expectancy, environmental benefits, ability to save energy and the fact that they are now dropping considerably in price, it’s no surprise that more and more people are deciding to replace their more conventional light bulbs with LED lamps.

And although we may like to think we are being more ‘green’ by using LED bulbs, ironically, replacing existing lighting for a more cost efficient and eco-friendly option can actually create something of an environmental headache in itself.

Such as, what to do with those old light bulbs?

So whatever your reason for choosing to convert to LEDs you will need to know just what you can recycle, what you can’t and where you need to go.

Here’s a look at the options available when it comes to disposing of your old light bulbs.

Incandescent Bulbs

Once the most common light bulbs for home use these bulbs are made with a thin metal filament that is illuminated by electricity. The bulbs are usually a vacuum or filled with an inert gas. While they may be popular, incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient as all the energy put into these bulbs is transferred into heat, rather than light. Unfortunately, most cities do not accept incandescent light bulbs at their recycling facilities and since they don’t contain any toxic materials, you are advised to simply throw your burnt-out bulbs into the rubbish bin. However, you may want to put the bulbs into their original packaging or wrap them in newspaper before throwing them away, so the glass won’t shatter and hurt someone.

Halogen Bulbs

Basically, halogen lights are just another variation of incandescent bulbs. Like incandescent bulbs, they are lit by a filament, which is in a tube with halogen gas. Though slightly more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs, the savings aren’t huge by any means. Like incandescent bulbs, there aren’t many recycling opportunities for halogen bulbs. But as they don’t tend to contain any toxic materials, they can also be disposed of in a regular rubbish bin. 

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

Due to their relatively affordable price and the huge amount of energy they save these bulbs have become extremely popular in recent years. Due to the fact they produce very little heat as almost all of the energy is put directly into the light output these bulbs are usually used in place of incandescent. But the drawback is that they tend to contain a small amount of mercury, which is actually a toxin, and means that particular care needs to be taken when disposing of them. Your local recycling centre will usually have a designated area for this type of light bulb and some large retailers, such as Tesco, also offer recycling points where these bulbs can be safely disposed of. Find your nearest recycling centre by clicking here.

Fluorescent Tubes

These are basically compact versions of CFL bulbs, meaning that tubular fluorescent bulbs also contain small amounts of mercury, and need to be disposed of in the same manner as a CFL bulb. So you’re best off taking them to your local recycling facility.

LED Bulbs

As these bulbs are made without a filament, they consume very little power and have a much longer life span than incandescent bulbs or CFL lights. Also, they don’t produce as much heat as an incandescent bulb, and unlike CFLs, they don’t use any dangerous chemicals.  So they can be disposed of in the same way as incandescent or halogen bulbs. But it’s worth remembering that most LED lights are made with materials that are recyclable, so it’s worth checking the package that your bulb came in or even your local recycling facility to see if you can recycle them as there is a good chance you can throw your LED bulb in the recycling once it’s used up – which may be some years in the future due to their incredibly long lifespan.

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