Recycling CFLs/FLs vs LEDs?


Jun 12, 2011
A number of the recycling places I've used in the past have stopped taking fluorescent bulbs of any sort. Used to just be linear, then CFLs. Now they don't even take LED bulbs. I can sort of understand fluorescent bulbs due to mercury scare. (Though at places I used to work at, the maintenance staff had mobile tube grinding machines they'd roll into the area when replacing bad bulbs. Can't imagine that was healthy...)

What I can't understand is why fewer recycling places are taking LED bulbs. Even e-waste places who otherwise gladly take in various consumer electronics bits that have LED bulbs integrated in them...

Is this just another bit of the insanity that is California?


Flashlight Enthusiast
Apr 19, 2005
YEs pretty much, the insanity, Ca is the leader of insanity nationwide.

May be, just maybe recycles are subsidized by local gvmnts, for items that pose an environmental threat gvmnt would pay, for those that do not pose threat they do not pay so recyclers do not take them. maybe they ended those programs, so no one accepts FL bulbs no more, there is really no money in recycling, notice jurisdictions where it is not mandated there is no recycle, here in nyc they recycle anything, outside the city, there is no recycling cuz there is no laws. If it was profitable recyclers would no doubt do it.


Flashlight Enthusiast
Nov 3, 2009
Ottawa Ont. Canada
Ikea here still appears to take CFL/FL lamps, and some other big-box stores including HD. I have a small collection of non-working LED bulbs, holding on for now for possible component reuse (LEDs), and plastic bulbs (good as diffusers for small projects).

I've been dropping off older used CFLs although most still functioning. Surprisingly, thrift stores still put out CFLs for sale and presumably people still buy them; they are still useful. Efficacy is still four times better than incan, but stuck there for decades.

I am all for the three R's, at the same time wonder about economic viability of LED bulb recycle. It would be based on volume, recovery costs, and whatever hazardous substances are mandated to be recovered. Lead in solder is unlikely to be a factor since RoHS, Mercury not a factor. It is more likely to recover plastic and metal materials as opposed to electronics.

I suspect companies do this largely as public relations exercise, and stop when it's no longer profitable in some sense (in that way who could blame them).

Just because something is in theory recyclable does not mean it will be. Here, curbside plastic pickup is only type 1 (PETE) and type 5 (PP), all others go to landfill one way or other. It is due to market for types of plastic, and who is funding the program e.g. governments.