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How to safely dispose of old lamps

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article image Care should be exercised when discarding old lamps during lighting upgrades to ensure correct disposal

VIBE Lighting suggests ways to dispose of old lamps when replacing them with newer and more energy efficient lighting technologies.

A lighting upgrade can mean having to throw away the existing lamps. Finding the best way to do this can be difficult, as some lamps contain mercury, lead or other substances that are harmful to humans and the environment if released.

This article by Michelle Vandenberg of ANL Lighting describes the various types of lamps that are being replaced today and recommends suitable ways of disposal. 

Incandescent globes are being phased out completely for their lack of energy efficiency and replaced by more efficient forms of lighting. Since these lamps don't contain harmful substances, they are safe to dispose of in a normal rubbish bin after wrapping them in tissue or a bag to prevent glass breaks and injuries.

Halogen globes are a type of incandescent light, with small halogen components added, and do not contain any hazardous materials. Currently being replaced by eco-friendly lighting options such as CFLs and LEDs, halogen globes are safe to throw away in the everyday bin, wrapped in paper or a bag to prevent cuts from broken glass.

Sodium vapour lamps are a type of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps that use sodium to produce light. Containing sodium, neon and argon, and even mercury, these lamps should be disposed of at special waste disposal locations to prevent release of any harmful chemicals.

Mercury vapour lamps are also HID lamps, vaporising mercury to produce light. The high mercury content makes them harmful to humans and the environment when released into the air. A safe waste disposal centre is recommended for their disposal. 

Metal halide lamps, another type of HID lamps produce light using a gaseous mixture of vaporised mercury and metal halides. These lamps also need to be taken to special waste disposal locations.

Fluorescent lamps such as PLC lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and fluorescent tubes are a type of mercury vapour lamps that use fluorescence to produce light. As fluorescent lamps contain mercury, they are classified as hazardous and therefore need to be disposed of at special waste disposal locations.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are the latest and most energy efficient lights available. Most LEDs do not contain any harmful substances, are fully recyclable, and therefore can be thrown out in the recycling bin to help reduce landfill. 

Care should be exercised when discarding old lamps during lighting upgrades to ensure correct disposal. Residential users can find their local safe disposal drop off locations, while businesses that need larger quantities thrown out can organise a pick-up collection service.

One can search for a local safe disposal centre on FluoroCycle, Recycling Near You, SITA Australia, Business Recycling, Zero Waste South Australia, and NSW EPA websites. 

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