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Are LED light bulbs recyclable?

It’s pretty common knowledge that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and need to be recycled rather than throwing them in the trash. But what about LED light bulbs? Are LED light bulbs recyclable? And should they be recycled?

Do LED light bulbs contain hazardous substances?

Are LED light bulbs recyclable

You can recycle LED light bulbs the same place you buy their replacements. Keeping them out of landfills keeps hazardous substances out of your groundwater.

LED light bulbs do not contain mercury, unlike the CFLs they displaced. However, they do contain trace amounts of other hazardous substances. They don’t pose any risk to you at home, since they are enclosed and LED bulbs don’t generally break, even if you drop one. But in a landfill, those substances can eventually leech into the groundwater, and we don’t want that.

And besides the trace elements we don’t want in our water, LED light bulbs often have large heat sinks that contain generous amounts of metal, sometimes aluminum. We might as well melt that down and use it to make other products after the light bulb burns out.

How to recycle LED light bulbs

LED light bulbs should be recycled, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We can’t just throw them in the recyclables along with aluminum cans and cardboard. Fortunately, recycling LED bulbs isn’t difficult. You can recycle them where you bought them.

Large home improvement stores have recycling bins near the entrance. Sometimes you don’t even have to go inside the store, sometimes they are right in the foyer where the shopping carts are. One of the bins is for rechargeable batteries, and the other bin is for light bulbs.

All you need to do is bag up your burned out LED light bulbs, take them to the store, and deposit them in the bin. They take care of the rest. I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a bag of bulbs where I keep the last box I bought. When I run out of new bulbs, I take the bag of old bulbs with me to the store when I buy a new box.

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