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Light Bulbs

All residential light bulbs are currently allowed in landfills in Michigan and can be placed in your trash cart.  However, taking the steps to recycle your fluorescent bulbs is much appreciated. Some bulbs, such as fluorescent tubes and CFLs, contain mercury, a toxic metal.  Most bulbs are labeled on their packaging and on the base of the bulb if they contain mercury. 

If you choose to discard your light bulbs in the trash, please store  inside a bag or box before placing in the trash cart or dumpster--- to avoid shattering and scattering the glass and contents when the bin is emptied.

Never place any light bulb in a recycling cart. Any light bulb glass will contaminate jar and bottle glass remanufacturing.

For local light bulb recycling options, please see the chart below. When transporting bulbs for recycling, package carefully to prevent breakage (such as packing old bulbs in the packaging from the new bulbs).

If a fluorescent tube or CFL, or neon or HID bulb breaks indoors, immediately open a window and leave the room. Follow the US EPA mercury clean-up link instructions or instructions from Washtenaw County posted on the web or available by phone from Michigan Department of Community Health at 1-800-MI-TOXIC. 

In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission began requiring light bulb packaging labels (designed like food nutrition labels) revealing information about brightness, wattage, life-expectancy, light appearance, energy cost, and mercury content. Each bulb must also be labeled to show mercury content, if any. Most CFLs, halogen, incandescent, and LED bulbs will have these labels. This additional labeling will also help protect consumers from purchasing substandard bulbs that may not perform well and burn out in shorter time frames.

(These light bulb disposal directions are for residential and small quantity generators.) 

Recycling Drop-Off Locations

Types of Bulbs Accepted 

Variable Fee?

Home Toxics Center by Washtenaw County, 705 N Zeeb Rd. 222-3950. (residents only)

 CFLs, flourescent tubes.  Call ahead about other bulbs containing mercury, such as neon. (for residents only, no commercial)


Drop-off Station by Recycle Ann Arbor, 2950 Ellsworth Rd, 971-7400.  

Any bulb with mercury (e.g. CFL, fluorescent tube, some HID or neon)


Home Depot 3300 Carpenter Rd.  975-1029  CFLs only


Gross Electric 2232 South Industrial Hwy. 665-8676
Incandescent bulbs, HID bulbs, CFLs, and fluorescent tubes



Types of Light Bulbs


Incandescent light bulbs are traditional, low-efficient bulbs.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 began phasing out these inefficient bulbs in 2012.  Incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury. 


incandescent bulb


CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs) contain small amounts of mercury, a toxic heavy metal. Most CFLs are highly efficient and long-lasting (look for the Energy Star logo).


CFL bulb


Fluorescent Tubes contain small amounts of mercury, a toxic heavy metal.  Fluorescent tubes are most often used in office and school lighting, but have begun being used in some residential home lighting features.


fluorescent tube


LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) contain no toxic elements.  LEDs are highly efficient bulbs and last up to 10x longer than CFLs, but the costs of bulbs remain relatively high.




Halogen do not contain mercury or other toxic elements.  Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent bulb that use halogen gas and are more efficient and longer-lasting than regular incandescent bulbs. They are commonly used in automotive headlights and some household fixtures.  They emit a lot of heat.


Halogen bulb


Neon light tubes contain different gases to display different colors.  All colors other than red contain mercury, a toxic heavy metal.  Neon bulbs are usually tubes used in brightly lit signs.  LEDs are replacing neon use in many locations.



neon light sign



HIDs (High Intensity Discharge) sometimes contain mercury.  Major types of HIDs include mercury vapor bulbs, high pressure sodium, and metal halide. HIDs are not commonly used in residential locations.  They are used when long-lasting, bright light is needed--such as in warehouses, parking lots, large industrial settings, floodlights, or street lamps.  They are highly-efficient and long-lasting. 


HID bulb


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