Can Light Bulbs Be Recycled?
Technological advancements in different types of bulbs over that past few decades have made it less clear whether light bulbs can and/or should be recycled.
Which Light Bulbs Should ALWAYS Be Recycled?
Fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), neon/argon lamps, and high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs all contain small amounts of mercury, which classifies them as a hazardous waste. While you can use them in your home without issues, these bulbs can contaminate the soil if they end up in a landfill. You should always recycle these types of bulbs to ensure the hazardous materials are properly processed.
So, why use fluorescent bulbs if they can’t go in the landfill? According to the EPA, “fluorescents are significantly more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs because they require less energy to provide lighting. Electrical generation from coal-burning power plants also releases mercury into the environment. The use of fluorescent bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs lowers energy use and thus reduces the associated release of mercury from many power plants. Fluorescent bulbs are also more cost effective because they last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.”
What Other Light Bulbs SHOULD be Recycled?
Incandescent bulbs and LED Light Bulbs don’t contain mercury, and most communities don’t require you to recycle them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Many contain metals such as copper, nickel, and lead that can be recovered in the recycling process.
Where Can You Recycle Light Bulbs in Sioux Falls?
Sioux Falls Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Residents can recycle light bulbs at the Sioux Falls Household Hazardous Waste facility, or if you’re not in the 5-county-region, through other similar city or county-run programs. In Sioux Falls, the HHW facility accepts CFL, Halogen and LED light bulbs for recycling at no charge. For bulbs they do not accept, Sioux Falls residents and businesses can bring bulbs to SEAM for recycling.
Light Bulb Recycling Drop-Off and Pickup Services
For businesses, or residents who have light bulbs the Sioux Falls HHW facility will not accept, SEAM offers recycling for the following types of bulbs:
- Fluorescent Tube Light Bulbs
- Compact fluorescent lamps and lights (CFL)
- Circular Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs
- U-Bent, U-Bend or Ubend Fluorescent Bulbs
- Shatter Resistant (Shat-R–Shield) Fluorescent Lamps
- Other Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- High intensity discharge (HID) bulbs
- Halogen light bulbs or lamps
- LED Light Bulbs
- Incandescent Light Bulbs
- Neon Lamps
- Argon Lamps
- UV Light Bulbs
If you have a bulb to recycle that’s not on the list, contact us and we may be able to help you or find someone who can.
Be Aware of Local Laws
In Sioux Falls, it is against the law to throw any hazardous waste in the landfill, which includes bulbs that contain mercury like fluorescent, CFL, neon/argon lamps, and HID bulbs. Always check your local regulations to ensure you are in compliance when disposing of light bulbs.