Halogen Light Bulbs (Recycle + Disposal Guide)
Halogen light bulbs are more efficient than other incandescent bulbs and are less expensive than light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. They are commonly used in outdoor lighting systems and provide an affordable option for homeowners looking for professionally installed landscape lighting.
Like all light bulbs, halogen bulbs will eventually burn out and need to be replaced. When this happens to you, you will need to know how to properly dispose of them, so here is a handy guide to help you do just that.
What Are Halogen Light Bulbs?
Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light bulb, but they are more efficient and longer lasting than conventional incandescents. Both conventional incandescent bulbs and most halogen light bulbs contain tungsten filaments. As these bulbs are used to illuminate spaces in your home or yard, a small amount of tungsten evaporates from the filament.
In a conventional incandescent bulb, the tungsten attaches to the glass, which is why the lifespan of these bulbs is shorter and why you see that black, soot-like coating on old or burnt out light bulbs. In a halogen bulb, the halogen gas inhibits this black coating by way of a chemical reaction with the tungsten. This reaction also causes some of the tungsten to reattach to the filament, which lengthens the lifespan of the bulb through this evaporation-reattachment cycle.
While halogen bulbs are more efficient than other types of incandescent lights, they do produce heat and are not as efficient as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LED bulbs are currently the most-efficient, longest-lasting and eco-friendliest option that is widely available to consumers. While LED outdoor lighting is more expensive to purchase and install, halogen lighting systems use more energy, require more bulb changes, and generally cost more to maintain over time.
How to Dispose of Halogen Light Bulbs
The first thing we should make clear is that halogen light bulbs cannot be placed in curbside recycling bins, since the heat-resistant glass of the bulb cannot be recycled like other types of glass.
Historically, halogen light bulbs were generally considered safe to throw away in regular, household garbage bins. It was believed that tungsten was not a toxic substance and was safe to dispose of in landfills. This belief is still largely held, and, because of this, there are no large-scale recycling programs for halogen bulbs. Most organizations still recommend simply throwing them away in the trash, and this is how most people dispose of halogen bulbs at the end of their useful life.
However, there are now some studies showing that tungsten may not be as harmless as we once thought, and cancer clusters and high blood levels of tungsten in people living near tungsten mines are raising questions about its safety and its ability to enter the groundwater.
Therefore, if possible, it is best to recycle halogen bulbs to keep them out of landfills. While most local recycling programs do not offer halogen bulb recycling, it is worth contacting the program in your area to see if they offer this service. If not, look for a Batteries Plus near you. Batteries Plus offers recycling for a variety of bulbs and lighting products, including halogen light bulbs and fluorescent tube lighting, which most programs do not accept.
If you are not able to find recycling options near you and must dispose of halogen light bulbs in the trash, place them in the original packaging or wrap the bulb to try to keep it from breaking.