If you’re keen to make a difference and reduce energy bills, efficient lighting is a superb opportunity to slash your costs. At the same time you’ll also be helping out the environment by cutting back on carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. Remember, energy efficient lighting will ensure you don’t have to replace bulbs as often too.

How to Properly Dispose of Light Bulbs

Low energy light bulbs can be recycled and most recycling centres will have an area for these to go. As well as this, you’ll also find some supermarkets offering collection points – Saving you from going down the tip. Instead, you can simply recycle them when you do the weekly shop.

How can businesses dispose of light bulbs?

Large businesses are likely to have a greater number of light bulbs to dispose of and the chances are they’ll have a range of lighting throughout the building.

Many businesses still use fluorescent tubes and before disposing of these, it’s best advised to speak with someone from your local authority. They are best placed to give you solid advice of recycling and disposal regulations in your area.

You could also ask for the supplier to arrange the recycling of the old lighting, as fluorescent lamps are covered by ‘producer responsibility’ of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.

The disposal of 'old style' light bulbs

Essentially, this is pretty straightforward. The old styling light bulbs can’t be recycled and should instead be disposed of with the rest of your waste. Throw them away and don’t be tempted to place them with your other glass recycling.

These light bulbs are constructed of a different glass to bottles and jar and can’t be recycled. They also contain a number of metal parts.

Recycling Light Bulbs Containing Mercury

There are a number of light bulbs in use that contain mercury, such as:

Out of the above, you’re more likely to come into contact with fluorescent lighting, especially if you work in a large business premises. This form of lighting is much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs – Mainly as the bulbs use less electricity to give the same light output. They’ll also last 10 times longer.

For this reason, knowing the correct way to dispose of light bulbs containing mercury becomes of extreme importance.

Why recycle mercury light bulbs?

Fluorescent lamps differ in the amount of mercury they contain. This can range between 3.5 to 15 milligrams and the exact amount will likely be due to who manufactured the lamp and its age.

In recent times there has been a serious reduction in the amount of mercury used in lighting, especially in the last two decades or so. However, despite this mercury can’t be completely eliminated from use. One of the biggest problems though is the way people tend to dispose of these bulbs.

Although each light bulb only contains a small trace of mercury, collectively they’ll release a significant amount into the environment. As such, the recycling of mercury light bulbs is highly encouraged.

So, why should you recycle mercury light bulbs?

• To reduce the release of mercury into the atmosphere

If a mercury light bulb is wrongly disposed of, the glass is likely to break and mercury released into the environment. Instead, it’s advised to take the bulb to a recycling centre, where the mercury and other parts can be reused.

This is even more important for businesses because of the volume of light bulbs used in the typical building. Just think, one fluorescent tube can pollute 30,000 litres of water.

• Parts of the bulb can be reused rather than wasted

This is a seemingly obvious point, as recycling is all about the reusing of materials to prevent waste. By recycling your light bulbs, there’s the opportunity for glass, metal and all other materials to be reused. Most of the parts included in a light bulb can be separated and used at a later date, so you’ll be doing a great service to the environment.

What is lamp crushing?

Lamp crushing is the intentional breakdown of fluorescent lamps in order to reduce volume. This form of recycling will not recover any mercury and is simply a way of reducing down the amount of wastage.

Light bulbs containing mercury should on most occasions not be landfilled and there will be regulations in place to govern what can and can’t be landfilled, depending on the area of the UK you live in. Any lamp crushing must also be carried out in accordance with regulations.

Remember, lamp crushing can release mercury into the environment and cause an immediate health threat.

Go to chapter 1: Introduction To Eco-Friendly Lighting Go to chapter 3: The Various Types Of Efficient Light Bulbs