Since 2010, BC LightRecycle has accepted residential-use fluorescent light bulbs at collection sites across the province. Since October 1, 2012, the program has accepted all lighting products for recycling without charge, including all types of light bulbs and tubes, ballasts and lighting fixtures used in residential, institutional, commercial and industrial applications. Collection options differ based on the type and quantity of lighting products to be recycled.
The following is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) directed at consumers.
- What is LightRecycle?
LightRecycle is a family of recycling programs that are operated by ReGeneration ( Product Care Association), a non-profit industry association, specializing in product stewardship on behalf of the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of products that are regulated under provincial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws.
In essence, we are a passionate group of environmentally-minded solutions providers who want to help good people, like you, change the world for the better. We do that by making sure that your spent or unwanted lights end up in the recycling stream and not in the trash.
LightRecycle operates in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec (as RecycFluo) and PEI.
- What products are accepted by the BC LightRecycle program?
The program accepts the following types of lighting products for recycling without charge:
- All kinds and quantities of lights (bulbs and tubes), including fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), light emitting diodes (LEDs), high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs), incandescent and halogen bulbs
- Lighting fixtures and products ranging from flashlights to light strings (e.g. Christmas lights), table lamps, wall fixtures, outdoor fixtures and chandeliers
- Lighting ballasts and transformers, including historic ballasts containing PCBs
For more details on the products accepted, please refer to the accepted products page.
For product clarification questions, please email us at email@example.com
The collection system differs based on the type of product (e.g. lights or fixtures) and the quantity being recycled.
- What is done with the collected products?
Returned or leftover products are brought into an approved facility for processing. Based on the condition and amount of the leftover product, the materials are recycled.
- As a consumer, where do I take my residential-use lighting products to be recycled?
There are more than 200 LightRecycle collection sites for consumers to drop off their burnt-out lights (bulbs and tubes). Ensure that the collection site accepts the products you have for recycling by indicating whether you have residential-use lights or fixtures. You can also call the Recycling Hotline at 604-732-9253 in the Lower Mainland and 1-800-667-4321 in the rest of BC.
The maximum limit for returns in a single visit is a total of 16 fluorescent tubes and a total of 16 other bulb types. Remember to handle lights carefully. Do not break or puncture them.
Over 80 (and in most cases, separate) collection sites are also available for consumers to recycle their residential-use lighting fixtures, ranging from flashlights to table lamps and chandeliers.
- What about residential-use lights that have been accidentally broken?
Place the broken item in a sealed plastic bag or a sealed glass container and take it to a nearby LightRecycle depot.
For clean-up instructions (for fluorescent lights that contain mercury such as CFLs and fluorescent tubes), visit the Health Canada website. If you do break a fluorescent light bulb, Health Canada recommends the following cleanup procedures:
- Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes before you start clean up, removing people and pets from the room.
- Wear disposable gloves, if possible to avoid direct contact with mercury and to prevent cuts.
- Sweep or wipe up the glass fragments and powder using two pieces of stiff paper or cardboard.
- Use sticky tape to pick up fine glass and powder and then wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any residue.
- If the bulb breaks on a rug or carpet, use sticky tape (such as duct tape) to pick up small pieces and powder. Vacuuming should be avoided as it spreads mercury through the area. If vacuuming is necessary, remove the vacuum bag or empty and wipe the canister with paper towel after the area is cleaned.
- Place the broken glass and clean-up materials in a glass container with a tight fitting lid or two sealed plastic bags to further minimize the release of mercury vapour.
- Bring the sealed glass container or sealed plastic bags to a collection site.
- What do I do with products that are not accepted in the program?
For disposal options for products that are not accepted in the program, call the Recycling Hotline at 604-732-9253 in the Lower Mainland and 1-800-667-4321 in the rest of BC.
- Do fluorescent lights contain mercury and are they safe?
Fluorescent lights (CFLs and fluorescent tubes) contain a small amount of mercury. As there is no safe level of exposure to mercury, care must be taken to ensure that materials are handled properly. The mercury from a compact fluorescent light or fluorescent tube is only released if the bulb is broken.
Follow these few simple steps to safely handle, store and transport compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and fluorescent tubes:
- Recycle all your CFLs and fluorescent tubes to keep mercury out of landfills
- Remove and install the CFL only by handling the base of the bulb to prevent any unnecessary pressure on the glass that could cause it to break.
- Store and transport CFLs and fluorescent lamps in containers such as original packaging that help prevent bulbs from breaking.
- Is there a limit to how many residential-use lighting products I can return at one time?
Maximum limit for return at one time in the consumer collection system is a total of 16 fluorescent tubes and a total of 16 other “bulb” types (i.e. any combination of CFL, incandescent, halogen etc. to a total of 16). If you have more than these numbers that were used in a residential setting to recycle at one time, please contact the depot nearest you to confirm if there is space to return the quantity you have.
Lighting Fixtures and Products:
Maximum limit for return at one time in the consumer collection system is generally 5 fixtures, though some collection sites may be able to accept higher volumes. If you have more than 5 units that were used in a residential setting to recycle at one time, please call ahead to the collection site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- As a large volume generator, how do I recycle large volumes of lighting products used in institutional, commercial and industrial applications?
The LightRecycle program includes a separate collection system for large volume generators, such as contractors, businesses, relampers, schools, hospitals and building managers, with lighting products used in institutional, commercial and industrial applications for recycling. See here for more information.
- Why are fluorescent lights considered “green” if they contain mercury ?
- Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, reducing your electricity bill.
- CFLs and fluorescent tubes benefit the environment by reducing solid waste since they last longer than incandescent bulbs.
- How is the program funded?
The LightRecycle program is funded by environmental handling fees applied to the sale of new lighting products in BC. As of October 1, 2012, fees apply to the sale or supply of all lights/lamps, ballasts and fixtures including retail, industrial, commercial and institutional sales. The fee rates vary by product type. The recycling fees are used to cover program costs, including managing the collection, transportation and recycling system for returned products.
Manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers may include the environmental handling fee in the product price or display it as a separate charge to purchasers. The fee is not a government tax and the fee itself is not remitted to government. The fee is subject to sales tax as it is considered to be a part of the price of regulated products.
For more details, including fee rates, please refer to the Environmental Handling Fees page.
- How do I get more information?
For more information, please call the Recycling Hotline at 604-732-9253 in the Lower Mainland and 1-800-667-4321 in the rest of BC. To contact us directly, please email email@example.com
- Who manages the LightRecycle program? Why was the program developed?
LightRecycle is managed by ReGeneration a non-profit industry association. BC LightRecycle was developed in response to the requirements of the BC Recycling Regulation, which requires that all producers (manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers) of lighting products be part of an approved stewardship program for these products.