How you dispose of a light bulb depends on which kind of light bulb you have and whether the bulb comes from your home or from a business or property that you manage.

Hazardous Waste: Do not place these in any carts, bins, or dumpsters
A grid of eight different types of Compact Fluorescent Lights and Fluorescent Tubes


Compact fluorescent lights (CFL), fluorescent tubes, high-intensity-discharge (HID) bulbs, and neon signs contain mercury, which is harmful to human health and the environment, even in very small quantities. Although Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs and tubes do not contain mercury, many LED bulbs contain other toxic metals which are also harmful in very small quantities and require separate disposal not in any of your three bins.  SFE recommends handling all LED light bulbs as a hazardous waste using the same programs described below for fluorescent tubes and bulbs.

FROM YOUR HOME: San Francisco residents can visit a drop-off location near you (many hardware stores accept) or request a free household hazardous waste pick-up from Recology. 

FROM YOUR BUSINESS OR PROPERTY YOU MANAGE: There are additional requirements for disposal of hazardous waste lights used in a business or in the common areas of a multi-family or commercial property. See our Factsheet for Businesses (PDF) to learn more about proper handling, storage, and a range of disposal options. 

A grid of six different types of incandescent and halogen lights that can go in the black landfill bin


Incandescent bulbs and halogen bulbs do not contain mercury, so San Francisco residents, businesses, and property managers can put them in the black landfill bin.

Broken fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs DO contain mercury, a toxic metal.  Follow the EPA’s guidelines for a safe clean up.

Next, put all the broken glass, white powder from the tube, and the paper towel you wiped the area with, in a ziplock bag or sealed container.  Call (415) 330-1405 to schedule a FREE home pickup or bring it yourself to San Francisco’s permanent household hazardous waste collection facility (hours and directions).  Sorry – broken fluorescents can’t be accepted at neighborhood drop-off sites, and should not go in the blue, green, or black bin.

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