How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Are you looking to replace your fluorescent light fixtures and want to know what to do with the old ones? Here are some helpful tips on how to dispose of fluorescent light fixtures.

Lighting is important in our homes and offices, bringing life to dark spaces with a warm glow. Many of us are familiar with the common incandescent light bulbs traditionally used until recent years when fluorescent lighting became more popular. While fluorescent lamps are much more energy efficient, most people don’t know how to dispose of them once they end their lifespan properly.

How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Fixtures

In this article, we’ll explore how you can safely and responsibly get rid of fluorescent light fixtures when it is time for them to be replaced or discarded, ensuring that you keep both yourself and the environment safe from any harm.

What Will You Need?

Before you dispose of your fluorescent light fixtures, you’ll need a few items to ensure that you do it safely and responsibly.

  • Gloves: It is important to wear gloves when handling light bulbs as fluorescent tubes contain mercury, which can be dangerous if it come into contact with skin or enters the environment.
  • Bag: You should also use a bag to store the bulbs and prevent them from breaking, as broken glass can be hazardous.
  • Recycling Facility: You’ll need to find out where your nearest recycling facility is located so that you can drop off the light fixtures for safe disposal.

Once you have all of the necessary items, you’ll be ready to begin disposing of your fluorescent light fixtures.

10 Easy Steps on How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Step 1. Preparation:

Before you start removing the fixtures, make sure you are wearing gloves to protect yourself from potential breakages. Also, set up your bag or container where you will place the fixtures once they’re removed. This should be a sturdy bag or container that can withstand any sharp edges from the fixtures.

Step 2. Switch Off Electricity:

Ensure your safety by turning off the light fixture’s electric circuit. This prevents any accidental electric shocks during the removal process. You can do this by locating the correct switch on your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box and flipping it to the off position. Remember, safety first when dealing with electrical fixtures.

Turning Off the Light Fixture's Electric Circuit

Step 3. Remove the Light Bulbs:

With the electricity safely turned off, you can now start to remove the fluorescent light bulbs. Gently twist each bulb in the direction indicated by the fixture to release it. Be careful not to apply too much force as this may break the bulbs. Once they’re removed, place them carefully into your container or bag. Remember, handling these bulbs with care is essential as they contain small amounts of mercury.

Step 4. Remove the Fixture:

After safely removing the bulbs, it’s time to take down the fixture. Start by unscrewing any visible screws securing it to the ceiling or wall. If the fixture has a cover, you may need to remove it first.

Be sure to hold onto the fixture firmly as you unscrew it to prevent it from falling. Once the fixture is free, carefully lower it and place it in a safe location. At this point, you have successfully removed the fluorescent light fixture and are ready for disposal.

Step 5. Prepare for Disposal:

Now that you have successfully removed the fluorescent light fixture, it’s time to prepare it for disposal. Bundle up the fixture and the bulbs separately, ensuring they are well-wrapped to prevent breakage during transit. You can use an old blanket or bubble wrap. Secure the bundle with tape to avoid any parts from slipping out.

Step 6. Locate Your Nearest Recycling Facility:

It’s important to note that you cannot simply throw your fluorescent light fixtures in your regular trash due to the mercury they contain. Look up your local waste management facility or recycling center to see if they accept fluorescent light fixtures. Many towns and cities have special programs or drop-off locations for hazardous waste.

Step 7. Transport the Fixtures:

Now that you’ve located your nearest recycling facility, it’s time to transport your fixtures. Be sure to load them into your vehicle carefully to prevent any breakage. If possible, try to keep them from moving around too much during transport. It wouldn’t hurt to have some padding or other protective materials in the trunk to help keep them secure.

Step 8. Dispose of the Fixtures:

Upon reaching the recycling facility, notify them that you are disposing of fluorescent light fixtures. They will guide you to the area where you can safely leave them. Make sure to follow all the procedures and regulations at the facility to ensure safe and responsible disposal.

Disposing of Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Step 9. Confirmation of Disposal:

Once you have disposed of the fixtures, confirming with the facility that they have been received and will be processed correctly is important. They may provide you with a document or receipt as proof of your responsible disposal. Keep this document safe, as it can serve as proof that you have complied with local regulations regarding the disposal of hazardous waste.

Step 10. Clean Up:

After disposing of your fixtures, remember to clean up any leftover materials or debris from the removal process at your home or office. Dispose of your gloves and clean your hands thoroughly to ensure no residual mercury is left on your skin. With that, you have successfully safely and responsibly disposed of your fluorescent light fixtures.

By following these simple steps, you can easily and responsibly get rid of fluorescent light fixtures when it is time for them to be replaced or discarded, ensuring that you keep both yourself and the environment safe from any harm.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Store Carefully: Before disposal, store your fluorescent light fixtures in a safe and dry location to prevent accidental breakage, as the mercury in them can be hazardous.
  2. Use a Recycling Center: Consider taking your unwanted fluorescent fixtures to a recycling center, especially those that accept hazardous waste. This ensures these materials are handled and disposed of correctly.
  3. Retailer Take-Back Programs: Some retailers offer take-back programs where you can return old fluorescent light fixtures, contributing to safer and eco-friendly disposal methods.
  4. Local Hazardous Waste Collection Events: Check for local hazardous waste collection events. These events often accept items like fluorescent light fixtures and handle their disposal responsibly.
  5. Avoid Regular Trash: Never dispose of fluorescent light fixtures in your household trash, as they could harm the environment. Ensure you follow proper regulations and recommendations for disposal.
Ensure You Follow Proper Regulations

With proper disposal and knowledge, you can get rid of your fluorescent light fixtures safely and responsibly.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Breaking the Bulbs: Avoid breaking fluorescent bulbs while handling. The mercury content can be harmful, and exposure should be minimized.
  2. Don’t Ignore Local Regulations: Local regulations for disposing of fluorescent light fixtures can vary. Ignoring these may lead to penalties or harm to the environment. Always check with your local waste authority.
  3. Avoid Disposal in Regular Recycling Bins: Regular recycling bins are not equipped to handle fluorescent light fixtures. Avoid placing them in these bins.
  4. Don’t Bury or Burn: Never try to bury or burn fluorescent light fixtures. This can result in harmful chemicals being released into the environment.
  5. Avoid Inadequate Storage Before Disposal: Store your unwanted fixtures properly before disposal. Poorly stored fixtures can break easily, releasing harmful mercury vapors.

Disposing of fluorescent light fixtures requires careful handling and a responsible approach. By following these guidelines and avoiding common mistakes, you can ensure you’re doing your part to protect the environment.

Can Fluorescent Tubes Be Recycled?

The good news is that fluorescent tubes can be recycled and should always be recycled properly. The recycling process not only helps prevent hazardous materials from ending up in landfills or the environment, but it also helps to conserve energy and resources.

Depending on your location, you may find various services available for recycling fluorescent light fixtures. These include retailers’ take-back programs, hazardous waste collection events, and recycling centers. Always check with your local waste authority to identify the best options for disposing of unwanted fixtures.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure fluorescent tubes are recycled responsibly.


All in all, it is important to properly dispose of fluorescent light fixtures to help reduce hazardous waste and keep our environment clean. If you need help with how to dispose of these materials safely, the best thing to do is to contact your local recycling center or hazardous waste collection service.

Each city has different rules for disposing of fluorescent light fixtures, so be sure you are up-to-date on the proper safety procedures in your area before beginning the disposal process.

When done safely and correctly, disposing of used or damaged fluorescent light fixtures does not have to be a daunting task. In addition to environmental benefits, getting rid of worn-out bulbs can provide peace of mind and restrict the amount of technology that ends up as electronic waste.

By following these guidelines and taking simple steps on how to dispose of fluorescent light fixtures, everyone can do their part in preserving our planet’s natural resources. So what are you waiting for? Get started with the safe disposal process today!

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Jennifer Branett

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