How can I reuse or recycle … dead light bulbs?

A light bulbEmJ has been in touch to ask how she can reuse or recycle dead light bulbs.

She didn’t say whether she meant energy efficient ones or the old type that died in a nanosecond so feel free to make suggestions about both.

Does anyone know if they can be recycled as glass or do the metal/plastic bits get in the way?

(Photo by beate, c/o

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36 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … dead light bulbs?”

  1. john says:

    if you celebrate Christmas, you can decorate them to make Christmas tree baubles.

    some great examples here:

  2. Fee says:

    you can take off the metal on the bottom (carefully!) and remove the innards.

    Then wash thoroughly.

    Use as vases (when stoon in springy egg cup things, they look incredibly modern!)


    You can take the black bit off the bottom and remove the insides. Again, wash out thoroughly. Then, get some wire (coathangers…) and wrap it round the metal grippy bit at the bottom, so that the bulb is facing downwards.

    Get a few, do this and connect them together to make different types of vases. You can affix suction cups using wire too and then suction them to windows with flowers in them (or small houseplants in soil maybe…)

  3. Emma says:

    I remeber seeing a lamp shade in ikea made from old lightbulbs the classic type of lightbulb I mean.

    It was a clear bucket shape with a hole in the middle for the workjing lightbulb and you could fill the bucket bit with whatever you wanted and they had used old lightbulbs. It looked quite cool.

  4. Heather says:

    As reported at, designer Helen Gifford, and her company HelenBilt, create beautiful lamps from used incandescent bulbs:

    I’m planning, after a little research on appropriate glues, to try something similar with the old light bulbs I’ve collected over the years. Wish me luck!

  5. Shabnam says:

    Posted on French blog today: this lady made fantastic vases

    very trendy!

  6. matt says:

    cover them in paper machie and when it dries hit on the ground, this will break the inside and will become a rattle, paint it and sell it

  7. Richie says:

    I’ve heard you can put then out for the council to collect and they will turn them back into glass!

  8. Delusion says:

    My council has confirmed that they can be recycled at the Home Waste Disposal centre :)

  9. Sam says:

    To find your nearest recycling point for Energy Saving Lightbulbs, enter your postcode into the recycle-more bank locator search tool and tick the ‘Gas Discharge Lamps’ box. This will give you all the address details and an interactive map of the nearest locations.

  10. Stu says:

    August 21st, 2007 at 2:24 am

    cover them in paper machie and when it dries hit on the ground, this will break the inside and will become a rattle, paint it and sell it”

    Please tell me you are joking?…oo! I know! Lets make a paper based container full of broken glass, then market it as a childs toy! Fantastic idea!…

    Seriously though, most local authorities provide facilities for various forms of recycling, get onto thier website and have a mooch around, they may not provide recycling for mercury containing devices, but there are also private companies out there who do (for a small fee), some I think operate a service where you can post the item to them, sure i’ve seen that somewhere…time for some googling again.

    Stu ;-)

  11. Ed says:

    Citijunk offer recycling services, junk
    removal and waste disposal throughout London.

  12. Sharon says:

    Alternative fuel source for the fossil fuel by making use of the oil extracted from jatropha curcas seeds, which is then converted into biodiesel for industrial and automotive uses.

  13. Physh says:

    i have painted light bulbs like santa’s and snowmen for christmas tree ornaments for years. even used skinny ones for nutcracker ornaments or toy soldiers.

  14. ClareBear says:

    Ikea will recycle household lightbulbs (and batteries and plastic bags).

  15. light bulb says:

    Include one or two working ones and all your dead ones and make a lamp sculpture –

  16. hjkh says:

    get two wiers and tie it to the bottom of the bulp then get a batery and put it at the end of those wiers and it will light

    P.S=lick me

  17. honey says:

    sculpture! sculpture! sculpture! let your inner child go… I saw a woman at a craft festival who made them into various types of bug sculptures (perhaps she had too much time on her hands), hadn’t thought of ornaments though… Whatever you do- thanks for caring for mother earth.

  18. James says:

    How can i recylce energy effiecent light bulbs tyou know trhe knew ones

  19. Alice says:

    If you can’t find out where to recycle energy efficient bulbs, get in touch with your local council. They are obliged to provide alternative safe disposal for them because of the very poisonous lead in them.

    Old inefficient lightbulbs could be smashed up and the glass put in normal glass recycling bottle banks – wrap them in newspaper, break them only once you’re right next to the bottle bank, then open the paper and pick out the base and tip the glass out of the paper into the bin.

  20. Joye says:

    To recycle the newer lightbulbs (CFLs), go to: Then type in “CFL” under “Find recycling centers for…”

  21. janet says:

    Sainsburys have a place to recycle the energy saving light bulbs in their stores.

  22. says:

    For goodness sake ! When most people in this not so green and pleasant land say ” recycle a light bulb ” , they mean dispose of safely . Do we really need to know that you take the bottom off a light bulb fill it with organic pot pourri and hang in the bowl of the toilet for lasting freshness , or fill with organic skunk piss and put it in our pants to make us smell more attractive to other users of this sight ? Just GET TO THE POINT ! Its enough to stop you being green at all !


    • Carol says:

      Well, BOBCUMMINGS1 – aren’t you just the grumpiest grouch??!!!

      Fancy making people feel embarrassed for trying to help others enjoy the simple artistic pursuits :-(


      To everyone else – I’m going to try all of the crafty ideas – and enjoy every minute , thank you very much indeedy.

  23. Ellen says:

    More suggestions for how to recycle old used light bulbs can be found at the link below. Some might be the same suggestions.

  24. Sage says:

    Energy star will take them back… florecents / energy saving lights etc must be recycled because they use mercury in them…


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  2. How can I reuse or recycle old flourescent light tubes? » How can I recycle this? 11 07 08

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