Recycling at home or work has become part of our daily routine, but one ubiquitous device that still raises questions over disposal is light bulbs. Do they go out with the normal trash? Get tossed in recycling containers? Do you save them for the next neighborhood e-waste event? The answers aren’t easy, thanks in part to new technologies to Thomas Edison’s illuminating invention along with society’s growing environmental concerns.
A 60-day initiative to help raise awareness on how citizens and companies can properly recycle lighting devices launched on Aug. 20. The Green Lights Initiative is sponsored by LEDtronics, one of the largest U.S.-based manufacturers of LED products. Besides donating to Keep America Beautiful with a check purposely dated Nov. 15 to coincide with America Recycles Day, the Torrance, Calif.-based company is taking to social media, print and electronic media to get the word out. New and long-time supporters of proper lighting disposal will be urged to sign an online petition at Change.org.
“‘When my light bulbs burn out, where do I put them?’ Being in the lighting business for nearly 40 years, we get that question a lot,” said Shaan Lodhie, LEDtronics’ chief operating officer. “Our company makes only LEDs, which are safe to dispose of in trash bins because they contain no hazardous chemicals. But that’s not necessarily the right option for environmental, safety and other reasons. When it comes to CFL and fluorescent bulbs, both of which contain small amounts of mercury, chucking them in the trashcan or with the recycling isn’t wise for intensified reasons.”
LEDtronics’ donation to Keep America Beautiful will help the non-profit with its mission to “inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment.”
Tips on Disposing Light Bulbs
When a real light bulb goes out, how great it would be if an imaginary light bulb appeared over your head to signal a bright idea for what to do next. With so many types of lighting on the market, even a single home or business can have multiple ways to illuminate. Materials being shared through the Green Lights Initiative include a “how to” on properly disposing and recycling the most common types of light bulbs. Here’s a summary of tips by lighting category:
- CFL and fluorescent – Small amounts of the toxic chemical mercury make these bulbs harmful to your health and environment. Simply tossing them in the trash is unwise, and in some circumstances unlawful. Because broken CFL and fluorescent bulbs are damaging to the environment if they enter landfills or the water supply, more stringent and rigorous steps are required to dispose. A local home improvement store or recycling center might be able to take this work – and the bulbs – off your hands.
- LED – Safe as it is to dispose of LEDs in trash bins due to an absence of toxic chemicals, recycling them is still the best option from an environmental and safety perspective. Better than tossing them in your recycling container, locate a recycling center that accepts LEDs, which contain reusable components.
- Incandescent and halogen – Like LEDs, these types typically contain no toxic chemicals. Disposing them in a trashcan or recycling bin is one solution, but a better one is handing them over to a recycling center. Because glass in incandescents and halogens shatters easily, wrapping the bulbs in recyclable packaging materials is also smart.
If you need help finding a recycling center that accepts bulbs, visit search.earth911.com or batteriesplus.com/t/recycling/Light-Bulb.
For further information on the Green Lights Initiative, visit LEDtronics.com/recycle.