Light Bulb Recycling 101

Ever wondered if you can recycle a light bulb? While you can’t toss it in your personal recycle bin for curbside pick-up, you can and should recycle light bulbs. In northern Nevada, Have Lights Will Travel is the only EPA certified recycler. If we’re working on your property for a lighting project, we’ll make sure that all lights we remove are properly recycled. In today’s video, Have Lights owner Kyle McClelland is taking you on a tour of our light bulb recycling process.

How It Works

We consider light bulb recycling to be one of the most important things we do here at Have Lights. Proper light bulb recycling keeps dangerous chemicals from contaminating our environment and it means precious earth metals and elements can be reused.

Any light that comes out of your property during our repairs or retrofits comes back here to our warehouse. We break it down and pack it up in boxes to ship to our recycling partner, where the components are separated and processed. These include:

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Phosphors
  • Mercury

Light bulbs also contain rare earth metals, which are required to be reused in electronics and new light bulbs. These metals are also processed properly for use.

Safely recycling mercury lamps requires complex machinery and a multi-step process:

  • Lamps are pulled into a breaker to be broken down into small pieces
  • The small pieces are fed into a conveyor and into two separate rumblers that slowly spin pieces down a slight incline
  • Loose powder is vacuumed off and fed into powder collectors and carbon filters
  • The multipurpose feed can process all types of lamps
  • From the feed, lamps are placed in a drum and tipped into a separate breaker and a rumbler, which is hydraulically lifted to ensure all particles are processed
  • Particulates are fed into the primary rumblers.

This process products two byproducts — aluminum end caps and extremely clean glass that’s more readily recycled by glass companies. End caps from the various lamps are collected separately, while power is recycled in a mercury machine to produce elementary mercury and clean phosphors powder. Mercury is then triple distilled for resale, and the phosphors powder is further processed to retrieve valuable rare earth metals.

Every part of the process is under negative air pressure with all the powder from each piece of equipment vacuumed over to two powder collection units. After it’s collected, the air is fed through two carbon filters. State of the art equipment ensures air quality, to the extent that the only PPE required in the room is a dust mask.

Doing it the Right Way

When you recycle your lighting products here at Have Lights, we do it properly to ensure the safety of our environment and community. From the glass to the metal to the components inside, our process ensures everything is recycled or reused safely. It’s required by the EPA, but it’s also just the right thing to do. If we’re repairing or retrofitting your property, proper recycling is part of the service. If you aren’t a customer, we invite you to reach out to us in the event you need a recycler for the old bulbs you have stockpiled in the garage — it’s a hazard, and we’re here to help. Contact Have Lights today and we’ll make arrangements for pick up or drop off.