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Got used light bulbs? Don’t throw them out

In most cases, employees and contractors should recycle them instead

Assortment of light bulbs and wattages
Most light bulbs contain hazardous materials such as mercury, a toxic metal.

USPS employees and contractors should not toss away light bulbs when they are no longer usable.

Most light bulbs — including fluorescent, compact fluorescent, high-intensity discharge (HID), light-emitting diode (LED), neon and ultraviolet lamps — contain hazardous materials such as mercury, a toxic metal.

The Postal Service considers these items universal waste that must be recycled. Facilities must also ensure that employees who manage and/or handle waste bulbs are properly trained.

To recycle universal waste bulbs, facilities must:

• Store broken or inoperable bulbs in closed containers that are clearly labeled;

• Arrange for off-site recycling within 365 days of the original waste-generation date;

• Recycle waste bulbs using Cleanlites Recycling, the organization’s national service provider; and

• Use mailback recycling containers or arrange for on-site pickup. Both options are available through Cleanlites in eBuy Plus, the USPS online purchasing platform; search under the catalog name USA Lamp and Ballast Recycling.

Incandescent and halogen bulbs can be disposed of in the trash or dumpster since they are typically nonhazardous and don’t contain mercury or other toxic metals.

The Waste Light Bulbs and Lamps Blue page has additional information.