Many people throw away their lamps in the garbage bin for disposal, and rightly so. After all, a garbage bin is where we should throw away all our wastes. This is, however, a half-truth. Some human wastes are toxic when they are exposed to different environmental conditions.
The question, therefore, is if I cannot throw away my lamps, where can I take them?
You can always recycle, and this why.
1) It is the law and EPA approved
Though not to all states, some states take stringent measures to ensure lamps, bulbs and other e-waste are properly disposed of so as to protect the environment. The EPA recommends that all end users of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, (CFL) and other bulbs should dispose them at the locally available recycling stations that will make sure they are disposed of in the right manner.
2) Prevent the release of mercury to the environment
CFLs and bulbs all have mercury. If larger amounts of mercury continue to be exposed to the environment, our surrounding will become toxic. Often when bulbs are thrown in the garbage bins they break and release the mercury. But if they do not break the mercury remains intact. Recycling, therefore, is a safe way to dispose of most of our e wastes.
The glass from the CFL and the fluorescent bulbs can still be reused. Metals and any other material on the bulb can be reused as well. Bulb recycling is encouraged by many waste collection agencies and they offer different dumping solutions. Electronic recycling is gaining momentum and more awareness is being created by recycling agencies.
How do I recycle my lamps?
There are three ways to recycle lamps:
-Local waste collection agencies
They usually provide free services, however, you may be charged some fee by other agencies. Regardless, the main concern is the service is readily available and you should dispose of your lamps through them.
You should contact your local agency to know the dates they collect CFLs, lamps, and e-waste as most waste collection agencies provide their services only a few times in a year.
If your local hardware has an in-store recycling option then this is an advantage to you. Not all stores are equipped with recycling machines. Even so, some stores may be equipped to recycle different lamps over others. It is all about the capacity of your local store to recycle. Before gathering all your lamps and disposing them at your local store, always ask if they offer recycling services for the kind of lamps you have.
-Mail back services
There continue to be more innovative ways to encourage recycling. Bulb manufacturing companies and other companies as well are known to sell recycling kits. All you have to do is acquire this recycling it. Dispose of all your bulbs in it, seal tightly and mail them back to the manufacturer for recycling.
To know more about mail back services, you should confirm the process on your manufacturer’s website.
What to do if I can’t recycle?
There are many reasons why you can be unable to recycle your bulbs depending on where you live and the availability of recycling services. If this is the case then you should care for the environment by disposing of your lamps and light bulbs the right way.
- Seal the bulb in a plastic bag and dispose it on your regular bin.
This, however, is a solution only if your state allows you to dump light bulbs on the regular bin.
It may be a while before you send your lamps to the recyclers. You will need to store them well. Manufacturers and recyclers prefer unbroken lamps. To ensure the safety of your lamps and bulbs, store them in their original boxes if available, or in the boxes of the replacement bulbs.
How are the light bulbs recycled?
After the lamps reach the recycling facility, they are unpacked and fed into an automatic machine that prevents the mercury from escaping into the atmosphere.
The machine then performs a by-product separation where it sorts the different elements of the lamp or bulb. The glass and metal end caps separated accordingly.
Mercury in the powder is harvested by sending the powder in distiller barrels that cleanse the mercury which is then collected and stored.
In the end, everything in a bulb can be recycled and reused.