How to Dispose of Used UV Lamps

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Things You'll Need

  • Mail-back recycling kit

  • Plastic bag

UV lights like those found in tanning beds can cause mercury contamination.
Image Credit: stokkete/iStock/Getty Images

Within the home, ultraviolet lamps and bulbs serve the purposes of water treatment, home tanning and captive reptile care, among other things. Like other types of light bulbs, including the new compact fluorescent light bulbs, UV lamps contain mercury, so must be disposed of properly. Some municipalities require UV bulbs to be recycled so the mercury within them can be recovered and reused. Others may allow you to dispose of UV bulbs with your regular trash.


Step 1

Contact your trash removal service and ask if your state requires UV bulb recycling. The garbage contractor can tell you how to go about having your bulbs picked up by your curbside recycling provider or where you must take the bulbs for recycling. As of 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington require recycling of mercury-containing bulbs.

Step 2

Call local hardware stores, home improvement stores and other retailers who sell UV and CFL bulbs. Many allow customers to drop off used bulbs for recycling. Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe's are among the national retailers who offer this type of program. Not every store in these chains participates, however, so call to make sure your local store is a member of the recycling program.


Step 3

Purchase a mail-back kit and mail spent UV bulbs to the manufacturer or to a recycling facility. Some bulb manufacturers offer this service directly; others should be able to direct you to a mail-back service you can use. The cost of the kit covers the postage required to mail the bulb.

Step 4

Seal dead UV bulbs in a plastic bag and place them in your regular trash can if you can legally do so and you cannot find a practical way to recycle them in your area. If you cannot find a recycler, and placing the bulb in your trash is illegal, take used bulbs to a hazardous household waste facility where they can be properly and safely disposed of.


Throwing mercury-containing bulbs away is illegal in some municipalities.


references & resources

Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.

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