Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out

EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local options for recycling CFLs, fluorescent bulbs and other bulbs that contain mercury, and all other household hazardous wastes, rather than disposing of them in regular household trash. 

View information about CFL recycling and disposal requirements specifically for businesses.

On this page:


Why is Recycling CFLs Important?

  • Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment.  CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator. Learn more about CFLs and mercury.

  • Other materials in the bulbs get reused.  Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.
  • Your area may require recycling.  Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. Visit search.Earth911.com Exit to contact your local waste collection agency, which can tell you if such a requirement exists in your state or locality.  We are aware that the following states prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills:  The following links exit the site Exit

How and Where Can I Recycle CFLs?

The short answer is: visit search.Earth911.com Exit to find out.

Longer answer:  Recycle at/using:

 Contact your local waste collection agency

Visit search.Earth911.com Exit to find collection schedules in your area or drop-off locations if curbside collections are not available.  Note that waste collection agencies:

  • provide services that are usually free, though some may charge a small fee.
  • sometimes collect household hazardous wastes only once or twice a year, so residents will have to hold on to their light bulbs until the collection takes place. Other collection agencies provide collection services throughout the year.
  • may also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries.
  • usually accept waste only from residents, although some collection programs include small businesses as well.

 Visit your local retailers

Many hardware supply stores and other retailers offer in-store recycling. Visit search.Earth911.com Exit to find stores in your area or check the list below. Make sure you check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may be equipped to recycle. The following links exit the site Exit

Find out about mail-back services

Some bulb manufacturers and other organizations sell pre-labeled recycling kits that allow you to mail used bulbs to recycling centers. The cost of each kit includes shipping charges to the recycling center. You fill up a kit with old bulbs, seal it, and bring it to the post office or leave it for your postal carrier.  Websites that provide more information about mail-back services.  The following links exit the site Exit

Please Note
  • U.S. EPA does not endorse, recommend, certify, authorize or approve of any of these services;
  • there may be other similar services of which we are not aware; and
  • we only provide these links as a convenience to our web visitors.

What If I Can't Recycle?

If your state or local environmental regulatory agency permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the regular household trash, seal the bulb in a plastic bag and put it into the outside trash for the next normal trash collection.