Light Bulbs - All Types
Fluorescent bulbs - this type of light source is part of our everyday life. There are three main types of fluorescent lamps: cold cathode, hot cathode, and electroluminescent. Fluorescent lights work by ionizing mercury vapor in a glass tube. This causes electrons in the gas to emit photons at UV frequencies, UV light is then converted into standard visible light by using a phosphor coating on the inside of the tube. (Fascinating huh?) Therefore, all fluorescent lamps, tubes, bulbs, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain small quantities of mercury. The mercury is the reason why these types of bulbs SHOULD NOT be disposed of in your regular trash.
The EPA mentions recycling prevents the release of mercury into our environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can, or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator.
SWALCO collects all forms of fluorescent lamps (tubes, bulbs, and CFLs) through our Residential Household Chemical Waste Collection Program.
You can also search the internet for fluorescent lamps pre-paid mail-back services.
Business and commercial waste options can be found in our "Where do I recycle this?" directory.
Incandescent bulbs (plain ole' non-fancy type bulbs!) work by sending electric current through a resistive material. Typically materials will glow before reaching a melting point. Most materials will glow a dull red color when they reach higher temperatures creating thermal radiation or "glow". The filaments and glass holding the electrical current in a fixed state are not recyclable and can be safety disposed of through your regular trash.
LED bulbs are a non regulated waste and can be disposed of through your regular trash.
Halogen bulbs are another popular bulb type. Its considered by many "a fancier version of the incandescent bulb". The glass is stronger to keep the increased gas pressure in check. To dispose of a halogen light bulb, you will first need to remove it from the light fixture. Make sure that the bulb is cooled before touching it. These bulbs get HOT and can easily cause severe burns if handled incorrectly. Pull gently on the bulb to remove it. Once you have the bulb out, put the used bulb in the packaging of the new replacement bulb. Or wrap it up in newspaper to prevent it from shattering. Halogen bulbs can be safety disposed of through your regular trash.