Did you know that we've been using light bulbs for more than 150 years?
Those first light bulbs could only last for about 15 hours. Today, advances in technology mean that your light bulbs can last for decades.
Eventually, though, every light bulb will come to the end of its useful life. What's the best way to dispose of unwanted light bulbs? Can you recycle light globes?
Read on as we take a look at light bulb recycling and why it's the best option for disposing of your old light bulbs.
The Benefits of Light Bulb Recycling
There are plenty of reasons why light bulb recycling makes sense. Here are a few.
Many bulbs such as fluorescent tubes and HIDs contain mercury, which is highly toxic. If these bulbs are not disposed of correctly, the mercury can seep into the water system and cause untold damage.
Recycling means that materials from light bulbs get used again in new applications. Metals, plastics, and even glass are non-renewable resources; that means when they're used up they're gone forever.
By recycling, these materials can be used multiple times in different applications.
If you don't recycle bulbs, they end up in landfill.
Landfills pollute the local area, so the more we can do to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, the better.
What Type of Bulbs Can You Recycle?
Different types of bulbs are manufactured in different ways with different materials. That means that you need to recycle them in different ways too.
Some people mistakenly think that since a halogen bulb is mostly glass, you can add it to your normal glass recycling.
This is not the case. Since these bulbs use heat resistant glass to withstand the heat generated by the filament, they cannot be recycled with normal glass.
So are light globes recyclable? Yes, they are. Some recycling centres will recycle these types of bulbs.
If you can't find where to recycle light globes locally then simply place them in the original packaging or wrap them in newspaper and add them to your household waste.
Can LED light globes be recycled? Short answer: yes! You can recycle LED bulbs in the same way as halogen bulbs.
Once again, if you can't find a recycling centre near you that will recycle these types of bulbs, then simply wrap them in paper or put them back in their packaging and add them to your household waste.
Most fluorescent tubes contain mercury, which means you must not dispose of them in your household waste or recycling. They need to be taken to a recycling centre so that they can be safely recycled without causing any dangerous pollution.
Because of their unwieldy shape, fluorescent bulbs are easy to break. If you break a fluorescent tube, you should take care where cleaning it up. Open the windows and let the room air for twenty minutes before you tackle the mess.
Once the room airs, you should put on some gloves, and carefully put everything into a sealed bag. You can then take it to a light globe recycling centre.
Compact Fluoros (CFLs)
Compact fluorescent bulbs are like fluorescent tubes that have been folded back on themselves multiple times to make them more compact.
Just as with fluorescent tubes, these bulbs contain mercury, so should be disposed of by taking them to a recycling centre. You should not add these bulbs to your household waste.
If you break a compact fluoro, you should follow the same process as with the fluorescent tube. Make sure that you don't add the bulb to your household waste; you must take it to a recycling centre.
HID stands for High-Intensity Discharge. These types of bulbs are commonly used in applications such as car headlights, street lights and floodlights due to their ability to cast light over a wide area.
Since HID bulbs also contain mercury, they should be disposed of at a recycling centre; you shouldn't add them to your household waste. You should take great care when dealing with a broken HID bulb.
Metal halide bulbs are another type of high-efficiency bulbs that are used in application such as photographic lighting and car headlights.
These bulbs also contain mercury. As with other bulbs containing mercury, you should not dispose of these yourself; you'll need to take them to a recycling centre.
What Gets Recycled?
The materials recovered from lightbulbs depend on the type of bulbs themselves.
With LED and halogen bulbs, the glass from the bulbs is recyclable, although as we have already learned the glass is heat-resistant, so it's not recycled in the same way as normal glass.
Bulbs containing mercury also provide additional materials. The bulbs are broken up and then washed to remove any contaminants. They then undergo a process of distillation, which extracts both the mercury and phosphor from the bulbs.
The remaining components of the bulb get broken down, with the glass, plastic, and metals being separated. These are then recycled and reused in other products.
Are You Looking for Local Light Bulb Recycling?
Can light globes be recycled? Now you know.
If you're looking for light bulb recycling in the Sydney area, then we're here for you. We can recycle both halogen and LED light globes, as well as fluorescent battens (tubes only). Just drop your light bulbs into our Matraville store during business hours, and we will ensure that they are properly recycled.
For large quantities you can your tubes or light globes to the Randwick City Council Recycling Centre.
Unfortunately, we cannot recycle any light fittings; only the bulbs themselves. If you're outside the Sydney area, we still want you to recycle your bulbs; check out this link to find out where to recycle light bulbs in your area.