Proper Way to Dispose of Light Bulbs

There are so many lighting upgrade projects every year that we thought it would be useful to remind folks about the right way to dispose of light bulbs. Following is a nutshell of information on the major types of bulbs.

1. Incandescent light bulbs

Typically do not contain hazardous chemicals, so they can be thrown away with regular trash. You do need to be careful of broken bulbs however, so it’s a good idea to wrap in some sort of padding for safety.

2. Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) and other fluorescent bulbs

Unlike incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and it’s actually against NH law to dispose of them in the trash. Although there is only a fraction of the amount of mercury versus those ‘old school’ thermometers, broken fluorescent bulbs can be damaging to the environment if they enter landfills or the water supply.

To dispose of fluorescent bulbs properly, recycle them.

Homeowners should check with their city/town recycling centers for acceptance of fluorescent bulbs. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.

NH State Agencies should utilize the statewide contract for processing/recycling:

3. Light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs

These bulbs are 90% more efficient than incandescent and contain no hazardous chemicals. This makes disposing of LED light bulbs easy. While you can safely throw them away in a trash or recycling can, these bulbs have recyclable components. So consider taking them to your recycler to make sure they’re put to good use.

4. Halogen light bulbs

Halogen bulbs are often used outside, where people use them as floodlights and are a more advanced form of incandescent bulbs. They are stronger and designed to withstand higher pressure than incandescent bulbs. You can safely dispose of halogen bulbs along with your regular trash. Alternatively contact your recycling center to see if they accept halogen bulbs

5. Other Specialty Lights (Specialty Mercury Vapor, Metal Halide, LPS, HPH)

Similar to fluorescent bulbs mentioned above, these types of lights contain mercury, so to dispose of properly, recycle them.

NH State Agencies should utilize the statewide contract for processing/recycling:

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