Energy-saving bulbs disposal and recycling

Who invented energy-saving bulbs?

The initial inventor of the energy-saving bulb was a man named Ed Hammer, who created the early spiral-shaped energy-saving bulbs. From this point onwards, a range of companies have taken his designs and further perfected them, allowing current energy-saving bulbs to be brighter and save even more energy than their predecessors.

Energy-saving bulbs disposal and recycling

What are they made from and how are they made?

Aside from their glass shells and metal wiring, energy-saving equivalents use a very small amount of mercury in the production process. These bulbs are made by filling a tube or bulb with a mix of gases and then providing them with a charge, leading to the production of light.

Energy-saving bulb disposal

Energy-saving bulbs come in a range of types. Due to the way they are made and the specific chemical composition of the bulb itself, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) need to be disposed of through a special recycling process. Although there is no specific legislation that bans people from placing energy-saving light bulbs in their regular waste bins, they do not belong there. However, other energy-saving options such as halogen lamps can be disposed of through your regular waste bin.

Problems with energy-saving bulb waste

If disposed of incorrectly, problems can arise from energy-saving bulb waste, specifically if the bulb is a compact fluorescent lamp. This is because of the nature of the gases included in the composition of the bulb. Gases such as mercury are highly toxic, and although they are OK in small quantities, when they are added to a landfill site that already contains various types of waste, all of these chemicals have the potential to severely contaminate the land they sit on. Halogen and LED lights don’t have these issues, but CFL bulbs require care and attention in disposal.

Furthermore, many of the specific elements used in the manufacture of energy-saving bulbs are highly valuable. This includes mercury, phosphorus, glass and metal. In order to recoup some of the raw material value of an energy-saving bulb, they need to be recycled in a specific way. By sending them to landfill, a significant amount of both land and commodity value will be lost.

Alternatives to energy-saving bulbs

In terms of alternatives to energy-saving bulbs, there are a few options you need to consider. If you’d prefer to make your disposal easier but have very little regard for saving energy and the environment around you, you could always opt for standard bulbs. This means that you would be using more energy and spending more on your bulbs, but you avoid the hassle of disposal.

You might also consider LED lighting. LEDs use a minimal amount of power, have a long life and are renowned for their ability to change colour. This is an excellent option to reduce waste and improve the ambience of your home, although the operating life may not be quite as long as a halogen lamp.

Facts about energy-saving bulbs

    • Energy saving bulbs use up to 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, all whilst offering the same level of light output.
    • Due to their lower operating temperature and intensity, energy-saving bulbs last up to ten times as long as traditional incandescent light bulbs.
    • The earliest energy-saving bulbs were panned for their slow warmup time. However, newer halogen and LED bulbs have improved on this.
    • Switching just ten of the bulbs in your home to halogen alternatives could save you an estimated £35 every single year, in addition to the carbon dioxide saved.

Where can you take these items to recycle/dispose of them for free?

While compact fluorescent lamps (the earliest model of energy-saving bulbs) aren’t recyclable, you can recycle both halogen lamps and LED lamps with household waste or via specialist recycling centres. Of course, recycling them in your household waste is completely free, however, attempting to recycle them at a specialist centre may come with a fee due to the expensive equipment that needs to be used in the disposal process.

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