Does Lowe’s Recycle Light Bulbs in 2022? (CFL, LED + More) - 33rd Square (2024)

When it‘s time to replace an old, expired light bulb, you may be wondering what to do with it. Can you just throw any light bulb in the trash, or should it be recycled? What about dropping it off at your local Lowe‘s store – do they offer light bulb recycling services?

Proper recycling and disposal of light bulbs is important, as some contain hazardous materials like mercury that can contaminate landfills and release toxins if not handled correctly. By recycling light bulbs rather than trashing them, we can reduce their environmental impact.

In this detailed guide, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of Lowe’s light bulb recycling practices in 2022, including:

  • Which types of bulbs they accept and don’t accept
  • How their recycling program works
  • Alternate places you can recycle bulbs if Lowe’s won’t take them
  • Proper disposal methods for unrecyclable bulbs
  • Statistics on recycling rates and comparisons of bulb varieties
  • Conversational advice to make recycling easy!

Let’s brighten up on light bulb recycling together!

Millions of Light Bulbs End Up in Landfills Yearly

Before jumping into the recycling details, it helps set the stage to understand why properly disposing of light bulbs matters in the first place.

An estimated 280 million household light bulbs are tossed in the garbage each year in the United States. The majority end up in landfills because many people don’t realize they require special handling. [1]

But light bulbs contain some concerning materials:

  • Mercury – Used in CFL and fluorescent bulbs to produce light. Highly toxic in landfills.
  • Glass – Leads to breakage and cuts if not handled carefully.
  • Powdered metals – Toxic to the environment when released.

By recycling bulbs rather than trashing them, we keep these hazardous substances out of our oceans and soil. Proper recycling also conserves resources by allowing materials like glass and metals to be reused.

Does Lowe‘s Recycle CFL Light Bulbs?

CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs can be recycled at Lowe‘s, provided they are intact and unbroken. Each CFL bulb contains around 4-5 mg of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. [2]

To give you a sense of scale, it takes 1000+ CFL bulbs to equal the mercury content in just a single dental filling or glass thermometer. [3]

Still, we don’t want that mercury getting into landfills and groundwater, so recycling CFLs is important.

The quickest way to identify a CFL bulb is by its spiral or coiled shape. Bring your unbroken CFL bulbs to the customer service desk at your local Lowe’s store and let them know you have light bulbs to recycle. Most stores will accept up to 10 CFL bulbs for free recycling.

Fun fact: If all 290 million household light bulbs sold yearly in the U.S. were CFLs instead of other varieties, we‘d save enough electricity to light over 9 million homes for a year and prevent 6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions! [4]

Does Lowe‘s Recycle LED Light Bulbs?

LED light bulbs contain no hazardous materials, and currently there are no dedicated recycling programs specifically for LEDs. However, some Lowe’s stores may accept them for recycling. I recommend calling your local store ahead of time to ask about their policies.

Since LED bulbs themselves don‘t need any special disposal, you can also throw them out with your regular household trash with no issues. Just make sure to keep the bulbs intact and protected by their original packaging so they don‘t break.

One hidden bummer about LEDs – they have an estimated 10-25 year lifespan! So while that‘s great for your electricity bill, it means a lot less opportunity to buy new bulbs. We‘ve got to keep the Lowe‘s CEO‘s boat payments coming somehow!

All jokes aside, LED technology has really changed the lighting game thanks to their energy efficiency. Keep reading to see how they compare to CFL bulbs.

Does Lowe‘s Recycle Incandescent Light Bulbs?

Lowe’s does not recycle incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are made of glass and metal, with a wire filament inside that heats up to produce light.

Unlike CFLs and fluorescent bulbs, incandescents contain no hazardous materials. They can safely be disposed of in your regular household trash.

Do not attempt to put incandescent bulbs in a glass recycling bin, as they are made of different materials than recyclable glass containers. The metal and halogen gas inside incandescent bulbs can damage glass recycling equipment.

Here’s a quick stat – about 10% of the average household‘s electric bill goes towards lighting. Switching the 5 most used bulbs to LEDs can save up to $75 per year in energy costs! [5]

Okay okay, enough dangling those energy savings carrots – back to recycling…

Does Lowe‘s Recycle Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs?

Lowe‘s accepts most linear, U-shaped, and circular fluorescent light bulbs for recycling. These contain mercury and need to be recycled instead of trashed.

Fluorescent bulbs give off light by running an electrical current through an enclosed gas vapor – that‘s where the mercury comes into play. On average, a 4 foot fluorescent tube contains around 10 mg of mercury. [6]

As with CFLs, take unbroken fluorescent bulbs to the customer service desk at your local Lowe’s store to be recycled. Call ahead to verify their bulb recycling services if you have a large number of bulbs to drop off.

Pro tip: Schedule any big projects that will generate used fluorescent bulb waste, like a basem*nt or garage lighting replacement, right before your town’s hazardous waste pickup days. Then you can get rid of the bulbs easily and for free!

Does Lowe‘s Recycle Halogen and High-Intensity Bulbs?

Halogen and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs contain no hazardous materials so Lowe‘s does not recycle them. Feel free to dispose of these bulbs with your regular household trash – just don‘t break them!

Leave halogen and HID bulbs in their original packaging or wrap them up before placing in your trash. Damaged or broken bulbs may overheat and cause fires in trash collection vehicles.

Fun fact: Halogen bulbs reach incredibly hot temperatures of up to 446°F (230°C) during operation! No wonder they‘re an extreme fire hazard if broken. [7]

Alright, time for the focused CFL vs LED comparison you’ve been waiting for!

CFL vs LED Bulbs: Which is Better?

CFL and LED bulb technology have both made vast improvements in energy efficiency compared to old-school incandescents. But is one categorically better than the other? Let’s break it down…

||CFL Bulbs|LED Bulbs|
|Lifespan|8,000 to 15,000 hours|25,000 to 50,000 hours|
|Light Color|Warm white to cool daylight|Varies by bulb|
|Efficiency|Use about 75% less energy than incandescents|Use at least 75% less energy|
|Cost|$1 to $10 per bulb|$1 to $20 per bulb|
|Mercury Content?|Yes|No|
|Fully Bright?|Take 30 secs to 3 mins to reach full brightness|Instant full brightness|
|Dimmable?|Specialized CFLs required|Most are dimmable|
|Last Word|Affordable efficiency boost|Long-lasting, eco-friendly choice|

As you can see, LEDs edge out CFLs when it comes to lifespan and efficiency. But CFLs are more budget-friendly, and modern ones have solved issues like warmup time and dimmability.

I‘d recommend LEDs for most household uses, but consider CFLs for:

  • Infrequently used lights
  • Areas where bulbs get knocked around/broken easily
  • Budget buyers looking for quick energy savings

Either way, look for the EnergyStar logo when bulb shopping to ensure quality efficiency.

Now, back to proper disposal…

How Much Does Lowe‘s Charge for Light Bulb Recycling?

The great news is Lowe‘s provides this recycling service to customers free of charge! As long as you follow their guidelines – such as only dropping off CFLs and fluorescents that are intact – you won‘t pay anything to have your old light bulbs recycled.

Lowe‘s also doesn‘t limit the number of CFL or fluorescent bulbs you can bring in, though some locations may ask that you call ahead if you have more than 10-20 to drop off. This helps them plan to have adequate staff available to handle the recycling properly.

Where Else Can I Recycle Light Bulbs If Lowe‘s Won‘t Take Them?

If your local Lowe‘s doesn‘t accept the type of light bulb you need to recycle, here are some other great options to responsibly dispose of them:

Home Depot

Most Home Depot locations will recycle CFLs, fluorescent, and LED bulbs for free. Just bring your unbroken bulbs to the customer service desk. Incandescent and halogen bulbs can go in the trash.


All IKEA stores have recycling programs that accept CFLs, LEDs, fluorescent, and incandescents. However, halogen bulbs must be disposed of in the regular trash at IKEA.

Local Waste Management Facilities

Check with your city or town‘s waste management department to see if they offer light bulb recycling. Many have dedicated drop-off days or sites to collect household hazardous items like bulbs.

For example, the city of Phoenix has special "HazWaste" collection events six times per year where residents can bring light bulbs and other items. [8]

Mail-Back Recycling Programs

Some bulb manufacturers like GE offer prepaid mailing envelopes you can request to send back expired bulbs for recycling. Once you‘ve received the envelope, just box up your bulbs, stick on the label, and pop it in the mail.

Specialty Recyclers

If those options don‘t work, search online or check to find local recyclers and waste management companies that may take bulbs not accepted elsewhere. These specialty services sometimes charge a fee.

No matter where you bring them, be sure to transport light bulbs carefully in their original box or packing material to prevent breakage. Broken bulbs will not be accepted for recycling.

Safely Disposing of Unrecyclable Light Bulbs

If the light bulb type you need to get rid of cannot be recycled, here are some DOs and DON‘Ts for safely disposing of them:


  • Place bulbs inside their original packaging or wrap in newspaper before trashing. This prevents breakage.
  • Dispose of incandescent, halogen, and LED bulbs in your regular household garbage. Double bag them first!
  • Check for any mail-back options offered by the bulb manufacturer.


  • Put any light bulbs in your glass recycling bin ever!
  • Throw CFLs or fluorescent bulbs in the garbage – they must be recycled!
  • Break any bulb or dump powder from inside CFLs down a drain or on the ground. This releases contained mercury.

By following these proper disposal methods, you‘re ensuring people stay safe and that you‘re doing your part to protect the environment. Well done!

Let‘s Brighten Our World Through Responsible Recycling

I hope this detailed guide has shed some light on properly recycling bulbs of all types – whether through Lowe’s programs or alternate methods.

The key takeaways are:

  • Lowe’s recycles CFL, fluorescent, and some LED bulbs for FREE
  • Only trash incandescent and halogen bulbs (safely!)
  • Ask your local Lowe‘s about recycling policies if you‘re unsure
  • Consider switching to efficient LED bulbs when possible

With some thoughtful recycling and safer disposal, we can keep hazardous waste out of landfills. If you have any other lighting questions, don‘t hesitate to contact me or your local Lowe‘s store for help!

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Does Lowe’s Recycle Light Bulbs in 2022? (CFL, LED + More) - 33rd Square (2024)
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