In much of the literature around recycling light bulbs there is mention that many consumers are unaware that they can and should recycle these products when done with them. Because they are small, it is often easy to just throw them in the rubbish bin. However, like other e-waste light bulbs contain metals, glass, and other materials that can be recycled and used for new products, thus decreasing virgin resource use.
Compact fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of hazardous mercury (generally not harmful in the household and significantly less than old thermometers, for example) so another reason to recycle used lamps is to avoid hazardous mercury ending up in landfills, incinerators, or leaching into the environment. It is important to put them into the correct recycling stream though, as light bulbs in glass recycling can cause problems. In this blog I will highlight some of the various systems in place for recycling used lamps in different countries (mostly Northern Europe, since we’re here). It would also be interesting to see reader comments if you have experiences of your own!