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Disposing of Light Bulbs

Unlike old incandescent light bulbs, newer CFL or LED lights should be recycled instead of being added to the landfill. CFL bulbs contain mercury, which can be hazardous to your health. This is a page about disposing of light bulbs.


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Yes, we're talking about those, soon to be legally required, spiral or curved and tube type light bulbs called Compact Fluorescent Light (I call them Curly Federal Light). It's really important to know that they have enough of an amount of mercury contained in them that they can cause very serious health and environmental problems, especially collectively.

Please open the link below for a thorough list issued by the Environmental Protection Agency January 25, 2011 on how to clean up the hazardous waste from broken CFL light bulbs and how to dispose of both broken and unbroken bulbs. You are going to be shocked at the seriousness of the details! It's important not just for you and your loved ones, but also for our environment in general to be a responsible citizen when it comes to CFL bulb handling and disposal.


    By Deeli from Richland, WA

    Comment Was this helpful? 13
  • Archives

    ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

    April 1, 2011

    We've all seen how a glass light bulb will shatter when dropped. I've also seen what happens when a bulb is broken in a plastic garbage bag; it shreds the bag and the garbage falls out. I've learned to save clean, empty plastic peanut butter jars for use when I change a light bulb. I immediately put the old light bulb into the jar and put the lid on, then put it in the trash. There's no need to worry about breakage. I also use a jar when I clean up broken glass. It prevents the garbage bag from breaking open from the broken glass.


    The new energy saving light bulbs we have now have mercury in them, so they should NOT go into the garbage when they wear out. They can also be put in a clean plastic jar and disposed of properly. In some cities, you can take them to the fire department for disposal because they are considered hazardous material. Your best bet is to call the company that handles your garbage pick up. BE SAFE!

    By Dianne from Wilsonville, OR

    Editor's Note: Fluorescent tubes also have mercury in them and probably a lot more because they are bigger. Make sure to take care of them as hazardous waste, also.


    Safe Light Bulb Disposal

    Or better yet, save the paper sleeves the bulbs come in, make a mark on the dead bulb and put back into the sleeve. Then check online or call local hardware stores, a LOT of them take dead light bulbs. By putting into a peanut butter jar, not only is the jar not going to break down, but when it does then the elements of the bulb will break down, therefore contaminating our land for our future generations. (07/17/2008)


    By Michawn

    Safe Light Bulb Disposal

    The bad part about this (and this can be verified by the senator who spoke about these fluorescent light bulbs-- I saw the YOU TUBE clip) is that a) these mercury filled lightbulbs are to be mandatory in all homes by 2014 AND we stupidly import them in from China. Yes, great- the place we get poisonous dog food and lead painted toys. Now we'll have uninformed US citizens poisoning themselves with these more energy efficient bulbs. Also be aware that you are to clear all persons and animals from the house for 15 minutes AFTER a bulb breaks. The mercury emits a powdery substance. Nice, huh? (07/18/2008)


    Safe Light Bulb Disposal

    This is a response to the Broken Light bulb tip. The new replacement bulbs can also be harmful to ones health as the Mercury can cause many problems not really talked about too much.

    Please read all information about disposal and cleaning up if you drop one of these bulbs accidentally.

    By Bob H

    Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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