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How to dispose light bulbs safely and responsibly

Traditional light bulbs are not easily recyclable and the advice is to throw them in the rubbish bin when they burnout. However, energy saving light bulbs have replaced traditional light bulbs and not only need to be recycled, but also often need to be disposed separately from the rest of the rubbish for health, ‘green’ and safety reasons. Here's how to dispose common light bulbs safely and responsibly.

Compact fluorescent lamps

Compact fluorescent lamps, also known as florescent tubes, contain small amounts of mercury in them and so they don’t belong in the rubbish bin. To ensure your own safety and the safety of others and the environment, it is important that you know how to dispose these light bulbs correctly.

Collect the fluorescent tubes separately from the other rubbish and drop them off for free at your local waste and recycling centre or other collection point. This will ensure the bulb is properly disposed and that valuable parts of the lamp like the metal and glass are recycled and not lost.

Also check stores like Ikea and Recolight (funded by the lighting industry) that also offers free drop-off points for recycling florescent tubes.

Incandescent light bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the original electric light sources made with a thin metal filament that is lit by electricity. These bulbs, as mentioned earlier, are not usually accepted at recycling centres. However, check with your local waste and recycling centre to make sure they don’t accept the bulbs for recycling.

If the bulbs are not accepted, simply put the burnt-out bulbs in a small plastic bag or in their original packaging so that the glass won't shatter and hurt someone and then throw the bulbs into the trash. Incandescent light bulbs don't contain any toxic materials.

Alternatively, re-use the bulbs around the house by making any of a number of DIY crafts, such as mini light bulb vases or ornaments with burnt-out bulbs that are not broken.

Halogen light bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are similar to incandescent light bulbs in that both are lit by a filament. The difference is that the filament is lit in a tube filled with halogen gas. Like incandescent bulbs, there aren’t many recycling opportunities for halogen bulbs. However, on how to dispose the light bulbs, you may follow the same steps as when disposing incandescent bulbs.

Check with your local waste and recycling centre to see if they recycle halogen bulbs. If they don’t, wrap the bulbs properly and throw them in the trash. Halogen light bulbs don't contain any toxic materials.

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