It’s that time of year again. Lights go up to celebrate the season, then lights come back down again. As you hang your lights this season or pack them away, please make sure to check your strands carefully. Worn or frayed cords need to be repaired before they are put to use again. Broken, non-working cords should be recycled, and so should all of your bulbs. Make holiday light recycling part of your annual tradition!
Almost 90% of the total material light bulbs are made of can be recycled! And, because all light bulbs contain small amounts of harmful materials like mercury it’s important that they are recycled!
How Are Light Bulbs Recycled?
- Regional Recycling collects light bulbs and other lighting equipment like lamps and fixtures.
- These bulbs and fixtures are sent to a recycling plant where they are sorted, compacted and sent for reprocessing.
- The mercury in the light bulbs is reclaimed. It can be used to make new light bulbs or might be used in medical imaging equipment.
- Metal from cords and bulb bases is separated, melted down and reused in a wide variety of ways.
- Glass from the bulbs is crushed and used for sandblasting material.
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Frequently asked questions about light recycling.
Have questions about how to recycle light bulbs and light fixtures? Here are some answers to our most frequently asked light recycling questions.
Regional Recycling is a partner in the province-wide BC LightRecycle program
for fluorescent light tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs.The program includes all types of residential light bulbs including halogen, incandescent, and light emitting diodes (LED’s).
You can drop any type of light bulb or light fixture off for recycling for free at all Regional Recycling Locations.
Accepted Light Bulbs
We accept household quantities of all types of light bulbs and tubes for free at all of our Bottle Depots including:
• UV and germicidal
• Fluorescent light tubes (straight, square, curved, U, circular etc.)
• Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
• Halogen and Incandescent
• High-intensity discharge (HIDs)
• Ultra High Performance (UHP)(replacement projector lamps)
• Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)
Accepted Lighting Fixtures and Products
We also accept light fixtures and lighting products for recycling without charge at all Regional Recycling locations. This includes portable, hardwired, free-standing and solar-powered products.
EXAMPLES OF ACCEPTED LIGHTING FIXTURES AND PRODUCTS INCLUDE:
• Light Strings (e.g. Christmas lights)
• Bike Lights
• Floor lamps
• Recessed/pot lights
• Ceiling Fixtures
• Wall fixtures
• Outdoor fixtures
• Security lights
• Table and Desk Lamps
• Work lights
Maximum Return Limit
The maximum limit for return at one time is generally 5 fixtures.
Where can I do my Holiday Light Recycling?
Recycle all of your holiday lights at any of our REGIONAL RECYCLING Depots.
Lighting Ballasts we Accept
Recycle household quantities of lighting ballasts with us, including ones that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Prior to 1980, some lighting ballasts manufacturing processes resulted in products that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). That means these ballasts require special handling. It is especially important to identify these products separately from ballasts that do not contain PCBs, so that they DO NOT get taken to our depots.
If you are sure that your lighting ballasts do NOT contain PCBs, drop them off at your local Regional Recycling Bottle Depot.
WHAT ABOUT BROKEN LIGHTS?
Place the broken item in a bag or container that can be sealed and take to a nearby Regional Recycling depot for safe recycling.
You can find clean-up instructions for fluorescent lights that contain mercury on the Health Canada website.
WHAT DO I DO WITH PRODUCTS NOT ACCEPTED?
To get information for products not accepted at our depots, call the Recycling Hotline at 604-732-9253 (Lower Mainland) and 1-800-667-4321 in the rest of BC.
FLUORESCENT LIGHTS CONTAIN MERCURY. ARE THEY SAFE?
Fluorescent lights ( fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescents) do contain a small amount of mercury. Because there is no safe mercury exposure level you need to be extremely careful when handling the bulbs. The mercury inside light bulbs is only hazardous if released, and this usually only happens when the bulb is broken.
To safely handle, store and transport compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and tubes:
• Remove and install the CFL by the base of the bulb. This prevents any unnecessary pressure on the glass that would cause it to break.
• Store and transport in containers such as original packaging. That will prevent bulbs from breaking.
WHY ARE FLUORESCENT LIGHTS CONSIDERED GREEN?
Energy efficient light bulbs save you money and most of all, they help the environment by using less electricity. And, because they don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as ordinary bulbs you are also reducing the quantity of waste.
• Fluorescent lights use up to 75% less energy and last over 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.
• Because they last longer than incandescent bulbs, using fluorescents also benefits the environment by reducing the amount of solid waste in our landfills.