Light bulb is something that we all have in our houses, but tend to be overlooked as long as they function well. But what if they start to show that their time is almost over? Relax, just buy a new one and drop the old one into the trash bin.
However, apparently that’s neither the greenest nor the cheapest way to deal with it. We have options that we can choose, because light bulb is actually a recyclable stuff. Surprising? Maybe, because not everyone knows that light bulb can be recycled.
Recycling a light bulb is not a common thing to be done except for people who have the access of information to this thing. And yes, the ‘secret’ information is not out on the street that everyone can access it easily.
That’s why, in this article, let’s talk about how to recycle light bulb, why should we recycle it, and what can be recycled from a light bulb.
Why Recycle Light Bulb?
Okay, so the first thing that we need to address is the reasons why we need to recycle light bulb instead of just throwing it away into the trash bin. There are several good reasons, actually and we are sure that some if not all would get you into it.
First is because we are running out of landfill. Even though light bulb is not that big in size, but surely throwing out 5.5 million bulbs every single day would take some space, and that number is for United States alone. Can you imagine how many of them are discarded by the whole world?
Second is because it can indeed be recycled. Raw materials used to make light bulb is recyclable such as aluminum and glasses. Interesting part about the glasses recycling is that it would become a material to create new stuffs, like bottle glasses, that can further be recycled to save energy as much as powering 100 watt bulb for 4 hours.
Third, we can actually save the environment and our future generation from mercury poisoning. How? Some bulbs contains mercury in it, and when thrown to the garbage it is possible for the mercury to leak out.
Recycling light bulb would prevent the bad things mentioned above to happen, as well as supporting the good things. Can you imagine that we have such good information kept under the shadow for such a long time?
How to Recycle Light Bulb Properly?
Let’s next talk about how to recycle your used bulbs properly, because we indeed to do it properly to avoid bad things such as mercury contamination in example. Moreover, different kind of bulb needs to be recycled differently.
Here are the tips to recycle different light bulb based on its type:
We start from the hardest type of bulb to recycle which is the halogen bulb. Halogen bulb contains fine wires that makes thing hard to recycle. Even most glass recycling plant will not accept halogen bulbs because it may ruin the entire batch.
That’s why most communities would just recommend you to throw it away in the municipal garbage bin instead. One of the best features of halogen bulb is that it doesn’t contain any toxic materials, and since most of its shape is unique, we can use it as ornaments.
Fluorescent Light Bulb
Next is the second hardest one to recycle: the fluorescent bulb. Most fluorescent bulbs contain mercury that we cannot let to leak into the environment. However, since it was the most favorite bulb in households worldwide, many recycling plants would accept it.
The elements fluorescent bulbs can be recycled to make newer ones or other uses, and that’s why many plants would still accept it even though it is not the most favorite one anymore.
Incandescent Light Bulb
The thing is, incandescent bulb contain only so small amount of glass and metal that most recycler don’t think it is worth the energy. However, disappointed not, this kind of bulb can be reused as ornament or small pot for your air plants.
To make a small pot, what you need to do is to crack open the ceramic part at the bottom of the bulb and take the inside out. This practice is pretty common to elementary school children in Indonesia, and you might want to start doing it too.
CFLs Light Bulb
This one can be recycled in special CFL recycling plants that can be found in many places. This type of bulb has been the favorite of many households because it consumes less energy compared to the previous types. However, this light bulb contains mercury that cannot be disposed recklessly.
Nevertheless, thanks to CFL recycling plants, the parts of CFL bulbs can be used as mixtures for other materials without risking the mercury to leak out. In example, the mercury can be used for new bulbs or thermostat, and the glass would be combined with concrete to create visual effects.
And finally, we are talking about the most eco-friendly bulb on nowadays market compared to all above. LED bulb doesn’t contain dangerous materials, has incredible energy-efficiency, and can be recycled almost entirely.
Most recycling plants would also gladly accept LED bulbs because it is easy for them to recycle. Not only that, the bulb also contains materials that cost small to be recycled yet cost more expensive to be sold later.
Light Bulb Reusing Not Recycling?
Getting to the final part of this article, let’s talk about reusing your old light bulb instead of recycling it. Recycling might need special equipment to do, but reusing your old light bulb may only require some creativity.
One of the examples has been mentioned above, which is using old light bulb as air plant pot. You may also want to create small terrariums from the light bulbs, whose instructions can be found easily on the internet.
And if you prefer to recycle it but somehow doesn’t have enough information about where and how to recycle it, you might just one call away from doing it. Contact your local government or recycling plants to know more information about it.