How to recycle light bulbs correctly

The recycling of light bulbs is not a trivial matter. Each type of bulb is recycled differently and, in fact, there are even bulbs that are not recycled.On this occasion we are going to tell you how to recycle light bulbs correctly and we will present you with some options for reusing those that cannot be recycled. In conclusion, it is important to bear in mind the following points:

  • Light bulbs should never be disposed of in the glass container. As they contain different materials, they should be treated differently from, for example, a bottle or a glass jar.
  • Not all light bulbs are recycled in the same way, some cannot even be recycled at all.
  • Always take them to a clean point or to places such as hardware stores or DIY shops where they have areas where you can deposit the bulbs.
  • Reuse them. In this article we suggest different ways to give your light bulbs a second life.
Which bulbs are recycled

Which bulbs are recycled?

Although it may seem strange, as we mentioned at the beginning, not all light bulbs are recycled. Halogen and incandescent lamps are not covered by the WEEE, the regulations governing the correct environmental management of waste electrical and electronic equipment.

Therefore, we can recycle fluorescent, discharge and LED bulbs. We can also recycle luminaires. On the other hand, halogen and incandescent bulbs are not recycled. However, as you will see below, they can be used in very interesting DIY projects.

Where do you throw the bulbs?

This will depend on the type of bulb we want to dispose of, as the management of a CFL (energy saving) bulb is completely different from that of an LED bulb.

Never dispose of light bulbs in the glass container.

Let’s see where we have to take each type of bulb for its proper management.

Filament bulbs

As these types of lighting elements, like halogen lamps, are not recycled, they should be thrown in the grey or dark green bin (depending on the population). In this waste container, also called the remainder fraction, those elements that do not have their own container for recycling are thrown away.

Energy-saving light bulbs can be recycled

Energy-saving or fluorescent light bulbs

Bulbs of this type contain mercury and therefore cannot be disposed of in the rubbish or in any recycling bin. They must be taken to a clean point where they will be safely treated for recycling.

LED bulbs

These bulbs are made of electronic elements which components can be reused. For their correct treatment, they must be taken to the corresponding clean point.

6 creative ways to recycle incandescent light bulbs

Creative reuse, better known as upcycling, is the transformation of discarded or no longer useful products into new products of higher quality or ecological value.

Important: Never use a fluorescent bulb for this type of project, they contain mercury which is highly toxic.

In this case, we are going to present some ideas for new uses for old incandescent bulbs.

Mini vases

By removing part of the socket and the inner filament we can use the bulb as a vase for small flowers.

Vases made from recycled light bulbs

We can put them on a base and decorate tables or shelves or, if we add some strings or threads to hang them, we will have a fantastic vertical garden.

Coat racks

With the bulb empty, we only have to put cement inside, put a screw in and wait for it to set.

Old cement-filled light bulbs as a coat rack

Now we only have to make a small hole in the wall and place our coat rack. We can also use it to renew the handles of all kinds of doors.

Oil lamps

As always, the first thing to do is to remove the filament from the bulb. Then we will have to put oil or alcohol for lamps or torches and place the wick.

oil lamps with recycled light bulbs

Christmas ornaments

With a few old light bulbs we can create our own Christmas tree decorations. Just paint them with your favourite motifs and add a small piece of string to hang them up.

DIY Christmas ornaments made from recycled light bulbs


With a few pebbles and a small plant or piece of moss we can make a terrarium. As with the mini vases we can place them on a base or hang them up.

mini terrariums in a reused light bulb

Ship in a light bulb

Just like a bottle, we can build a ship inside our light bulb.

Ship in a reused light bulb

As you can see, the fact that some light bulbs cannot be recycled does not mean that they cannot be used as decorative accessories.