How to Dispose of LED Light Bulbs


LED light bulbs are easily one of the most thrilling lighting technologies that you can find in different markets around you. They are long-lasting, energy-efficient, super-powerful, and environmentally friendly.

A common issue people face with LED bulbs is not knowing how to throw them out after they have burnt out. Is this also a problem for you? This guide will answer all your questions.

It’s safe to throw your LED bulbs into the trash can since they barely contain dangerous chemicals. LEDs also contain some recyclable elements, which means you can also dispose of them through a reliable recycling firm.

We will go over LED light bulbs and how you can properly dispose of them as responsibly as possible.

How to Dispose of LED Light Bulbs

Challenges of Recycling LED Light Bulbs

A lot of manufacturers employ a variety of designs and materials to improve the flexibility and adaptability of LED bulbs for the consumer.

Although that is good news for the consumer, the recyclers face difficulties during the reprocessing of these LED bulbs.

As mentioned earlier, LED light bulbs are made from nonrenewable resources such as glues, ceramics, glass, metals, foams, plastics, etc. This makes them quite difficult to repurpose.

How to Dispose of LED Light Bulbs Correctly

Now, let’s quickly look at some of the ways to rightly dispose of your LED Light Bulbs.

1. Consult your local laws first

The first thing to do while looking to get rid of your LED bulbs is to go through the laws of your state. In many jurisdictions, residents are allowed to put their LED bulbs in a trash can, especially as they do not contain mercury.

However, LED bulbs contain a little bit of lead, arsenic, and some other hazardous materials. This can cause the laws of your state to approve of disposing of them through a specialized facility or simply recycle them.

To find out the standard LED light disposal method according to your state laws, you can head over to a search engine and enter “Can I recycle / trash LED light bulbs + in + state of residency”. You can also check your state’s website to see if there’s any information concerning the disposal of LED bulbs.

Whatever your findings are will determine your next steps. If it’s okay to throw them away, simply wrap your LED bulbs in waste paper, then place them in a plastic bag, and throw them in your regular trash can. The reason for putting them in waste paper, first of all, is to prevent sharp pieces of the bulbs from damaging the garbage bag.

Also, containing the bulbs is a means of keeping any toxic material from escaping through the broken pieces and polluting the environment.

2. Repurpose

Instead of throwing your expired or burnt-out LED bulbs away, you can reuse them to create different types of light bulb crafts and art projects for your home.

One of the things you must understand is that LED light bulbs are not similar to gas grenades and so can not explode at any point. They are safe and reliable. As long as they are stored in a drawer and kept away from water and heat, you have nothing to be scared of.

If you love DIYs, leverage your old LED light bulbs to make something beautiful. Confused about what to create? You can look for inspiration and ideas on Pinterest.

While you’re doing an LED light bulb project, keep the glass away from children as mistakes are bound to happen and broken pieces of the glass can result in injury.

A few things you can repurpose your expired LED light bulbs into are hanging vases, mini gardens, chic bud vases, etc.

3. Recycle

Different from halogen bulbs, recycling has always been the go-to method of disposing of LED bulbs. They contain some rare earth elements that can be recycled and reused to make new products.

When planning to recycle your LED light bulbs, check with your supplier or manufacturer to find out if they run any recycling programs or know of any company that does so.

A second option would be to check lighting companies or home repairs stores to see if they can help recycle your bulbs.

Most people are not lucky when it comes to recycling LED bulbs because they do not contain enough electronic parts. Without a large volume of parts, the recycling facilities may find it challenging to work with the LED bulbs.

Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will have more established recycling programs that are available to take up LED bulbs regardless of their state.

Again, finding a trusted recycling facility in your area will aid your decision. You can ask people in your neighborhood or use online search engines to find out.

Why Do LED Light Bulbs Burn Out Slowly?

Unlike traditional bulbs that burn out suddenly, LED light bulbs burn out gradually. That’s because the independent light-emitting diodes tend to fail one after the other.

While LEDs perform better than their older counterparts, they still do not possess 100% efficiency in transforming electrons into light. This means that LED lights sometimes emit heat as power.

Then, the heat accumulates on the neck of the bulb. Since the space on the neck of the bulb is quite small, the heat temperature will become high, thereby raising the temperature of the trapped air.

Due to the high temperature, the capacitors, chips, and other electronic components in the LED bulbs may struggle for air. The bulb can eventually burn out or not, depending on the amount of air the electronic components can get.

In all, LED bulbs do not instantly stop emitting light. Rather, they lose brightness and may no longer be useful. If the bulb gets to the point where it can no longer serve your needs, you can dispose of and replace it. 

Disposing Broken LED Light Bulbs: What You Should Know

If you have children or pets, the last thing you want to do is expose them to the broken lamp or bulb pieces. But then, disposing of a broken bulb isn’t as easy as just picking up the pieces and dropping them directly into the trash can; there’s more.

Because some glasses are quite hazardous and can inflict injury, you need to learn how to dispose of them properly. Proper disposal can also stop any harmful chemicals from escaping the landfills.

Here are tips for successfully getting rid of broken led light bulbs:

#1. Unscrew It

Carefully loosen the light bulbs from the light fixture.

#2. Bag the Bulb

Use a paper bag to wrap up the bulbs if they are broken and put them in a plastic bag. You may want to skip this process if the pole lamp isn’t broken into pieces. The main purpose of bagging is to ensure that none of the sharp ends accidentally causes a bodily injury.

As stated previously, you can contact the public works department in your locality to find out the different recommended methods of broken LED light bulbs disposal.

Note, the staff should know about the type of bulb you intend to dispose of. That would help them tailor their response to fit your problems.

How Long Do LED Bulbs Last?

LED light bulbs have an extended lifespan and that’s one of the major reasons people opt for them. They’ve been tested to last up to 50,000 hours.

On average, you can use LED light bulbs for as long as 20 years without worrying about changing them. Depending on the environment, some bulbs can last longer than 10 years.

Simply put, buying LED light bulbs is a huge investment that can help you save money and time.

Related: Halogen Light Bulbs: A Complete Disposal Guide!

What Can You Do With Unused LED Light Bulbs?

If you no longer need your LED bulbs, here is what you can do with them:

Donating your unused bulbs to charity is a way of giving back to society. Some people suffer light sensitivities that may have use for them in special homes.

For example, individuals who suffer photosensitivity may experience dry eyes, rashes, headaches, etc., when in contact with artificial light.

These symptoms are often a result of constant exposure to ultraviolet light from normal bulbs. LED bulbs do not emit ultraviolet light and this makes them a perfect gift for such people.

Give them to your friends or neighbors

Everyone loves and appreciates kind gestures, regardless of the form they come in. Since LED bulbs are quite expensive, they can make an ideal gift for someone close to you. It can help them save some time and money.

Also, you can use them to establish a new relationship with people if you’re new to a particular environment.

Final Thoughts

In summary, LED light bulbs are widely known for their effectiveness in our environment. The harmful materials in them are quite small, so you have nothing much to worry about.

While looking to dispose of your LED bulbs, you must take precautions, especially if they are broken.

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