Disposing of your used-up light bulbs doesn’t have to be difficult. Some light bulbs, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), require special care in use and disposal because they contain mercury. Thankfully, it’s free to recycle them safely. The tricky part is keeping them safe while storing and transporting them to a convenient location, but don’t worry, we’re here to help with that.
Ideally, store the used bulbs back in their original box and take them safely to the recycling location of your choice. Another way is to wrap them in paper and carefully place them into a cardboard 6-pack container. If travelling with loose bulbs, wrap carefully in paper or plastic and place into a box to keep from rolling around. Don’t tape them together.
What if one breaks?
Avoid breathing vapors or touching broken materials.
Do not vacuum or sweep. Open windows to vent vapors for at least 15 minutes while keeping people and pets out of the area. After this, you can clean up the mess by following these simple steps.
- Use stiff paper or cardboard to pick up large pieces.
- Use duct tape to pick up small pieces and powder.
- Wipe the area clean with a disposable damp paper towel or wet wipe.
- Place all materials in a sealed container.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Dispose of cleaned up, broken blubs at HazoHouse — not in your trash.
Where to recycle
Many bulbs nowadays contain some mercury including compact fluorescent tubes (CFLs), high-intensity-discharge (HID) lamps, neon lamps and mercury vapor lamps. This is why there are special requirements for cleaning up and why they can’t go into your regular trash. They can be recycled at HazoHouse, located at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center on Hogum Bay Rd. in Lacey. HazoHouse accepts most unwanted household hazardous materials for free and is open everyday from 8 – 4:45.
Thanks to Light Recycle Washington, there are many other locations that accept unwanted fluorescent bulbs and tubes for free – many of these locations limit their acceptance to 10 bulbs per day.
- Batteries Plus Bulbs on Capital Mall Dr. in Olympia
- Home Depot (all locations) – Tumwater off Littlerock Rd., Olympia on Fones Rd., Lacey on Marvin Rd.
- Lincoln Creek Lumber/Ace Hardware at 2421 93rd Ave., SW, Tumwater
- Lowe’s (all locations) – Lacey off Yelm Highway, Olympia on Martin Way
- Olympia Ace Hardware at 400 Cooper Point Rd. SW
- Puget Sound Energy at 2711 Pacific Ave. SE in Olympia
- There is no way to recycle incandescent bulbs, simply place in the trash.
LED (light emitting diode) lights
- They are not considered hazardous, last many years and can be safely disposed of in the trash.