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How to Dispose of LED Bulbs

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Do you know how to properly dispose of your LED light once it burns out or breaks? If you don’t, please read on. We will tell you exactly how to dispose of LED bulbs. They are affordable, energy-saving, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly. Therefore, most American homes prefer using them.

How to Dispose Of LED Bulbs

You can dispose of LED bulbs in your household waste or at a recycling facility. Ideally, it is better to recycle or reuse them to reduce the world’s waste stream. If you still want to toss them away, it is mandatory to check with your local authority if they have any rules and regulations regarding disposal.

In most cases, compounds in light bulbs such as Mercury in CFLs have adverse effects on humans. Luckily, LED bulbs do not have any hazardous chemicals. That is why you can toss them away in the general waste bin. Scientifically, the white LED lights in most households have a score of 30, 100 being the most toxic a bulb can get.

Disposing old LED light bulbs

When it comes to recycling, you have to check if it can work in your area. While there are numerous recycling facilities, there is no global one specifically for LEDs. Also, not all recyclers can deal with LEDs. ENERGY STAR recommends you check Earth911 to locate nearby local recycling facilities if any.

Can I Recycle LED Bulbs? 

You can do recycle LED bulbs by physically taking them to a recycling facility near you or sending them by mail to companies that accept LED recycling.

Physical Drop Off

Even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy Program says LEDs do not need to be recycled, we advise you to recycle or reuse your bulbs if you can. Disposal should be your last resort. For recycling, here is a simple procedure you can follow:

  • Check sites like Earth911 to identify any local recycling facility near you
  • Contact the recycling facility to find out how to go about with the drop-off.
  • Wrap them up in waste paper and take to them if they accept LEDs.

If there is no local recycling facility, try out retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s which take universal waste. Note that LED bulbs are not classified as universal waste, though they take them. For example, since 2008, Home Depot has recycled over 2.5 million LED string lights.

Mail Drop Off

Alternatively, you can recycle by mail. Companies like Christmas Light source can accept your LEDs by mail if you are willing to pay for shipping. Others like Environmental LED and Holiday LEDS accept mail-in LED holiday lights for recycling without you parting with a single dollar.

Before you mail in your bulbs, contact them to find out about any special requirements you need to adhere to concerning packing and shipping your LED bulbs. In some cases, once you reach out to them, they send you a prepaid special package container to use instead of sourcing for your own.

The other advantage of this is they offer your enticing discount prices for any new set of LEDs you buy from them.

What Can I Do With Unused LED Bulbs? 

Do you have any unused LED bulbs laying around? When a bulb burns out or breaks, you usually toss it away. For an unused one, however, it might be uncertain. Here are 3 ways you can handle them:

Light bulb
  • Store them: One advantage of LEDs is the long life expectancy that makes them durable and reliable back up lighting. So do nothing, let it continue sitting around for a day that it will come in handy. You can never tell when you will need a new one.
  • Give Them Away: If you have enough, consider giving some away. Gift your neighbors or friends. It is better to have them in use rather than degrading away idly.
  • Craft With Them: Do you love DIY? You can use your bulbs to make a variety of home décor stuff. We all have different styles and ways of expressing it, use them to make a statement around your home.

Creative Ways to Reuse LED Bulbs

How about turning that unused or burnt bulb into something worth looking at? There are countless pieces you can make with an old bulb. It all depends on your creativity. Below are a few ideas you can try out:

  • Oil lamp: Since it is a piece of lighting equipment, reincarnate it to exactly that. The only difference is this time it will be less bright, and use a wick and paraffin instead. It makes a good décor with a countryside feel. 
  • Hanging flower pot: This is one of our favorite DIYs for an old LED bulb. You simply clean the inside, fill it with water, and place a flower in it. Finally, wrap a string around the base and hang it. For a better look, consider making several and suspending them as clusters in different lengths.
  • Mini vase: This is the same idea as the flower pot. The difference is a mini vase does not float. After the flower is set up, get a stable stand where you can place the mini vase. It makes a chic piece on a dining or coffee table.
  • Spice containers: While this might sound crazy and look impossible. It is very doable. You have to thoroughly clean the inside of the bulb and remove all of its contents. Afterward, customize some cork stoppers and you’ll have yourself a container for that turmeric.
  • Beaded showpiece: This piece is art at its best. For it, you will need a lot of beads. After the cleanup, fill the whole bulb with the beads. Secondly, mold a piece resembling a tree, adorn it with beads and place it in there. Lastly, get a stable stand and put it on there for everyone to see.
  • Small terrarium: If you love the ecosystem, here is a fun DIY you can try. Clear everything in the bulb inclusive of the metal tip. Place adhesive silicone bumpers on the side of the bulb to make it stable. Add sand and some tiny plants.

How do you Clean up a Broken LED Bulb?

What happens if you drop the bulb and it breaks? That’s okay, accidents happen. It would be a different case if it had any harmful components. Do the following to clean up:

LED light bulb hanging outdoors
  1. Restrict your pet or children from walking over or near the area.
  2. Put on a pair of protective gloves and a mask.
  3. Sweep using a disposable material; if you use a broom, throw it away too.
  4. Use a stiff paper to pick up the broken pieces.
  5. Put them in a sealable waste bag.
  6. Use the sticky side of duct tape to pick up the tiny pieces.
  7. Wipe off the area with wet paper towels or disposable wet wipes.
  8. Contact your local municipal agency for guidance.
  9. Put it in the waste bin or take to a recycler.

How Long Do LED Bulbs Last?

An LED bulb has a lifespan of 50,000 hours. Practically, if you use it for 10 hours a day, it will serve you for around 13 years. In comparison with the classic incandescent bulbs that last for about 1200 hours, LEDs are 90% more efficient.

Thanks to their long life, you will go for a long while without worrying about how to dispose of them. Ultimately, there will be less waste to deal with. According to the current situation, we highly advocate for lesser waste to avoid an environmental issue like global warming and marine pollution.

While disposing of LEDs now might not be such an issue, in the next 10 years or so, a lot of people who use them already will have some burnt-out ones considering their lifespan. There are millions of households that use them, hence millions of bulbs to dispose of come at that time.

The Future of LED Bulb Recycling

While the long life span of an LED bulb has immense benefits to the user, it has a drawback as well. Due to the small percentage of LEDs in our waste stream, there is no pressure to facilitate or come up with disposal measures at the moment.

This explains why not all recycling facilities can handle LEDs. They don’t know the best way to go about the process. LEDs fall under electronic waste. Besides, there is no legislation draft currently that addresses LED bulb disposal.

However, we expect that to change before or during the next decade. Once more LEDs fill up our wastes, although they are harmless they will still be a nuisance. Hopefully, unlike the case of incandescent bulbs, manufacturers will introduce measures like take backs


Now that you know how to dispose of LED bulbs correctly, do the necessary. Remember, we advocate for disposal to be your last option. If you can’t repurpose your old bulb, consider recycling it before tossing it into a general waste bin.