How To (Properly) Recycle All Kinds of Light Bulbs in Kane County, IL

How To (Properly) Recycle All Kinds of Light Bulbs in Kane County, IL

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Set of incandescent, halogen, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs.

Every once in a while I get a call about light bulbs. Mostly people want to know how to recycle compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), “you know, the swirly ones.” But also many people have fluorescent tubes that have given up the ghost and need to be recycled.

Less frequently, I even get asked how to recycle an old-fashioned regular light bulb, or what we call incandescent light bulbs, the ones that throw off the heat.


Free drop-boxes for recycling CFLs can be found at most (but not all) hardware stores. Deliver used CFLs in a resealable plastic bag, and ask at the service desk where their drop-box is at. Recycling CFLs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

CFLs last 10 times longer and use 75 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent light bulbs. Each CFL installed in place of an incandescent bulb will save around $6 in electricity costs every year!​

Fluorescent Tube Recycling

Not a lot of hardware stores like to take the long tubes because they are fragile and hard to handle safely. But there are a few that will. Because of this need, Kane County has partnered with a centrally located Ace Hardware in Geneva to accept fluorescent tubes.

Geneva Ace Hardware store ​(617 W. State St., 630-208-6600) will receive fluorescent tubes and LED bulbs for free from residents.

This Kane County Fluorescent Tube Recycling pilot program started Dec. 1, 2015, and is continuing until further notice. This is for residential use only. Businesses cannot use this free service. See online list of other places that will receive fluorescent tubes for recycling.

The Naperville Household Hazardous Waste Facility will also accept residentially generated tubes for free.

Businesses With Fluorescent Lamps (Lights)

The Naperville HHW drop-off is for residents, not businesses. In 1997, fluorescent lamps were designated by law as universal waste, a category of hazardous wastes, because of their mercury content, thereby banning them from landfill disposal. Residential material is exempt from this law, but businesses must contract for disposal services.

Here is a short list of companies that can assist small and large businesses with their responsible disposal needs: Everlights (877-934-9873), Fluorecycle (815-363-4411)

Ballasts From Fluorescent Lighting

Ballasts from residents or businesses can be recycled at Elgin Recycling (660 Schiller St., Elgin,or 161 Center Dr., Gilberts, 847-741-4100).

Incandescent Bulbs

Inefficient incandescent bulbs use about 75 percent more electricity than CFLs and about 85 percent more than LEDs. And they are not recyclable and have to just go in the trash!

Regular old light bulbs are banned in many countries, like Australia and Germany, because they waste so much electricity. Most of the energy is thrown off the bulb as heat rather than light.

For a lighter article about the European Union ban on conventional incandescent light bulbs, see this Earth Matters blog.

LED Bulbs

I have not had many people call about how to recycle the new LED lights yet because they last 20-plus years. But in case you do have some to recycle, we will take those through the Kane County program at the Geneva Ace Hardware. (See above!)

Questions? Contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator, Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Read More Recycling Tips!