How can I reuse or recycle … energy saving lightbulbs and tubes?

CFL lightbulbWe’ve already looked at reuse ideas for old fashioned lightbulbs but what about recycling for the supposedly greener variety?

A friend of ours, Denyerec, has prodded me a couple of times about recycling energy saving light bulbs and tubes because he’s got a growing pile of them:

I have a fear that the energy saving madness is going to be offset by the environmental damage caused by inevitably casually discarded tubes.

Whenever we’re chatting about it, another friend always points out that they have to be disposed of carefully because of the mercury in all compact fluorescent lamps – but none of us have any particular idea of how to go about doing this.

Any ideas?

(Photo by vranarc)

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … energy saving lightbulbs and tubes?”

  1. Rosalind says:

    I’ve been told officially that these class as hazardous waste. You need to contact your county council to find out how to dispose of them. You might want to publicise this in your local area as I’m sure – with the oldest of these products now reaching the end of their useful lives – there will be lots of people chucking them in the bin. Perhaps your local shop would let you put a collection bin in it? Maybe one for batteries too?

  2. hazel_tree says:

    My local council waste and recycling centre (aka the tip) has recently acquired a new container for recycling fluorescent tubes. I am assuming, as it doesn’t say otherwise, that this includes the compact version. Worth checking out if the same facilities are in your area, or at least, by inquiring, raising the profile of the demand.

  3. Anonymous says:

    tied together with a few old loo rolls these strange looking objects make exciting ‘DR Who’ like toys for small children.

  4. Joshie says:

    I understand that Ikea will recycle the bulbs. Collect them up and take them with you next time you go shopping and deposit them in the special bins. Alternatively check with your local recycling centre (tip).

  5. Harry Wood says:

    They don’t usually stop working completely, rather they start flickering annoyingly, and this quickly gets worse until they’re mostly off, but flashing on randomly. So…

    …have a disco! Well I once had a raucous house party where we had a couple flashing away in “the dance room” creating a dubious disco effect. It kind of worked with the music. We probably threw them in the bin afterwards though :-(

  6. Alice says:

    Advice from the council in the event of breaking an energy efficient lightbulb:

    * Evacuate the room, taking care not to step on the shards of glass littering the floor.
    * Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clear up the mess as the machine’s sucking action could spread toxic mercury droplets around the house.
    * Put on rubber gloves and sweep the debris into a dustpan.
    * Place the remains in a plastic bag and seal it
    * DO NOT out the bag in a normal household dustbin
    * Instead, place it in a municipal recycling bin for batteries which also contain mercury (as do fluorescent tubes) or take it to a Recycling Centre for Household Waste where it can be disposed of safely.
    * Try not to inhale dust form the broken bulb.

  7. Giselle says:

    DO not break it, put it in a sealed bag.

    for Fluorescent Tube Recycling, u can visit

  8. I contacted my local council about this. B&NES (Bath and North East Somerset in the South West) and they said you can put the energy saving bulbs with your regular recycling in the box for collection. They take batteries too.

  9. Louise says:

    When I rang my local council they hadn’t a clue what to do because this was the first time anyone had enquired.
    They told me to put the old bulb in the new box and throw it away with the normal household waste!
    So, not only are they telling me not to recycle it, I have to not recycle the cardboard box either. And this is a council who claims to be encouraging recycling!!

  10. Clare Bluett says:

    I found you can search for where to dispose of these via the RecycleNow site by searching for energy saving lightbulbs and then entering your postcode here:

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