Are you looking to get rid of your old fluorescent tubes?
Most homes, offices, and commercial premises use fluorescent tubes as the primary source of light.
Fluorescent lighting stands out because its energy efficient compared to halogen and incandescent light bulbs, and costs less compared to LEDs.
While fluorescent bulbs can brighten your home for years, eventually they will burn out. When this happens, you will need to replace them with new ones. That’s where Lowe’s comes to mind.
However, you can’t help but wonder – what can I do with the old fluorescent lamps? Can I replace fluorescent tubes at Lowe’s?
Here’s everything you need to know about recycling fluorescent bulbs at Lowe’s and much more.
Does Lowe’s Recycle Fluorescent Tubes?
According to most customers, Lowe’s permanent recycling centers spread across the US don’t accept fluorescent tubes. But other web pages and articles say Lowe’s recycles used or expire fluorescent bulbs.
Well, there’s some little truth to that. Keep in mind there are several types of fluorescent lighting, including linear fluorescent tubes, fluorescent circline tubes, fluorescent bent tubes, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
Lowe’s recycling programs only accept compact fluorescents but not other fluorescent tubes. So, if you’re looking to dispose of your old tubes, look for other options. You can check whether local recycling facilities take old fluorescent bulbs.
However, don’t throw them with the rest of your household trash or you risk exposing the environment to hazardous waste.
With this in mind, there are several items you can recycle at Lowe’s on your next visit. Read on to discover these items.
What Can You Recycle at Lowe’s Stores?
With over 1700 stores spread across the US, Lowe’s provides customers with an effective and free way to recycle a variety of items. As long you the item meets the acceptance requirements, you can drop it at any Lowe’s recycling center.
1. Light Bulbs
As said above, Lowe’s recycles old CFL bulbs since they cannot be recycled in standard bins. But before you drop them off, ensure they’re not broken.
As for LEDs, it appears some local Lowe’s recycles them, but verify with your local Lowe’s shop before the drop. In most cases, you can just toss LED bulbs with the rest of your waste.
You cannot drop incandescent light bulbs and halogen light bulbs at Lowe’s. These lighting bulbs do not pose any threat to the planet’s environment since they contain no dangerous elements. As such, you can discard them with the rest of your household trash.
But when discarding them, don’t place the bulbs into your glass recycling bin since they contain metal which can cause damage. So, it’s wise to get rid of them while in their original packaging.
2. Christmas Lights
Christmas lights bring life to the holiday season. But once the festive season is over, the lights have no purpose. While you can store them till the next Christmas celebrations, the lights can get spoilt.
What’s more, the design of Christmas lights keeps changing every year. For this reason, most people prefer changing their holiday lights.
Fortunately, you can recycle your old Christmas lights at Lowe’s any time of the year.
3. Other Accepted Materials
Besides the items above, you can also recycle the following:
- Rechargeable batterie
- Plastic grocery bags
- Plastic planter pots
Usually, the recycling service at Lowe’s is entirely free. But it’s important to follow instructions at the recycling points before making any drops. For instance, Lowe’s might need you to remove the packaging of certain items before placing them in the recycling bin.
Another thing, there’s a limit on the number of items you can recycle on a single visit. You can find this information on the signage.
Why Recycle Fluorescent Tubes?
Fluorescent lighting, like long tubes and CFLs, contains small amounts of mercury and other harmful compounds. When disposed of in the dumpster, garbage, compactors, or trash can, they can break, releasing hazardous waste into the environment.
By recycling fluorescent tubes, you can prevent the harmful compounds in the tubes or bulbs from leaching into the soil and groundwater, contaminating both. Recycling also allows the reuse of various components that make fluorescent lights, including glass and metals.
In addition, some states have strict regulations concerning the disposal of fluorescent tubes, CFLs, and other mercury-containing lighting bulbs.
You can visit search.Earth911.com to contact your local waste management facility to know if your state or locality has such requirements. The site will also help you find other recycling centers if you don’t live near a Lowe’s retailer.
Why Can I Find Recycling Options for CFLs and not Fluorescent Tubes?
Retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot are the biggest CFL recycling market. They usually allow customers to drop their used or old CFLs at the store for free. The reason being consumers at these retailers buy more CFLs than fluorescent tubes.
Besides, CFL blubs ship easily for recycling compared to long and short tubes. So, avoid placing your old fluorescent tubes at Lowe’s or Home Depot recycle collection bins. That’s because the bulbs can break, exposing people at the store to mercury.
Where Can I Recycle Fluorescent Tubes Near Me?
Since Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t recycle fluorescent bulbs, you might need to check with other locations in the US.
Search through the Earth911.com archive to find light bulb disposal facilities within your locality that recycle fluorescent tubes. The Green Directory is another resource that can help you.
Some local retailers like IKEA, Aubuchon Hardware, and TrueValue offer in-store recycling. You can check with them to see if they also recycle fluorescent bulbs. Better yet, you can consult your local waste collection agencies.
Additionally, several bulb manufacturers and other organizations offer recycling kits that you can use to mail old bulbs to recycling centers.
You can get these kits, fill them with your compact fluorescent light bulbs and mail them to a center. Learn more about mail-back services at epa.gov or Think Green From Home.
How To Store Fluorescent Light Bulbs?
If you can’t get rid of the burnout or used fluorescent bulbs immediately, consider storing them properly to avoid releasing harmful compounds into the environment. Below are a few guidelines to adhere to when storing fluorescent bulbs:
- Place the fluorescent tubes upright in their original cartons to prevent breakage.
- Avoid taping the bulbs together or stacking the cartons.
- Store the cartons in a dry place, away from the reach of children and pets.
- If stacking is unavoidable, arrange the cartons neatly on pallets and shrink-wrap them to avoid falling.
Keep in mind you can only store the fluorescent tubes and CFLs for up to one year. Also, you need to store the bulbs in a room with low temperatures. High temperatures usually increase the amount of mercury vapor generated from old fluorescent lamps.
If possible, get a CFL storage or transport case. They will keep your tubes upright and safe from breakage till you can take them to the recycling station.
What Happens If You Inhale Vapor from A Broken Fluorescent Tube?
If a fluorescent lamp breaks and you inhale the vapor, the mercury will get absorbed by your lungs. The toxic might affect your immune and digestive system, kidneys, lungs, skin, and eyes. Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Trouble breathing
- Swollen gums and bleeding
- Increased salivation
Whether you inhale large or small amounts of mercury vapor, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical help or to contact the nation’s poison control.
What Do I Do If Fluorescent Tubes Break?
We’ve already established that broken fluorescent tubes and CFL bulbs are dangerous. So, if your fluorescent bulbs break, stick to the instruction below:
- Have people and pet exit the room immediately
- Open all windows or doors leading outside and let the room air for 5 to 10 minutes
- Shut off the HVAC, if you have one
- Seal off air ducks with strong plastic or tapes
- Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning up the broken pieces of the tube and powder
- Do not vacuum the room unless broken pieces of glass remain after cleanup
- Place the cleanup material in a sealable container and wash your hands thoroughly with soup
- Leave the room for several hours
Since you cannot recycle the broken tubes, contact your local hazardous waste management facility or recycling management service for disposal instructions.
Lowe’s offers you an easy and cost-effective way to recycle several items while protecting the environment. But keep in mind Lowe’s recycling centers don’t take fluorescent tubes. The same goes for Home Depot stores. However, you can still drop your CFL bulbs at these retailers.
If you’re looking to dispose of your fluorescent tubes, contact your local waste collection agencies or other recycling centers to see if they recycle the bulbs.
Remember to take caution when handling fluorescent tubes because they contain harmful toxins like mercury. In case of mercury exposure due to breakage, call the poison control board for immediate assistance.
Did you find this article helpful? Tell us in the comment section below.