Lamps & luminaires: how to dispose of them properly
What should be done with spent lamps and old standalone luminaires? Energy-saving lamps, for example, do not belong in the bin; they are collected and recycled. So, disposing of lamps and luminaires properly at the end of their useful life is part and parcel of environmental protection.
The collection and recycling of spent appliances in Germany has been governed since 2006 by the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG). Under its provisions, a number of lighting products need to be collected separately for reuse. These are:
- all fluorescent lamps and discharge lamps,
- LED lamps,
- all luminaires not used in private households; as a general rule, these are so-called technical luminaires used e.g. in production facilities, street-lighting or offices.
What can be disposed of as household or bulk waste
Conversely, this means that under the ElektroG the following products can be disposed of as household or bulk waste:
Incandescent lamps and halogen lamps are made of metal and glass. They contain no substances that make them environmentally unsuitable for landfilling.
What needs to be recycled
All discharge lamps – such as energy-saving lamps or fluorescent lamps – contain small amounts of mercury. They should not be disposed of as household waste and their bulbs do not belong in a glass collection container. The ElektroG requires that they should be sent for recycling.
Responsibility for collection and recycling resides with manufacturers and importers. Hence the establishment of Lightcycle Retourlogistik und Service GmbH, formed by the German lamp industry in 2006. A non-profit company, it organises the collection of spent discharge lamps on a nationwide scale. Municipal maintenance yards and voluntary collection points where spent lamps can be handed in free of charge are associated with it. The following types of lamp are accepted:
- linear fluorescent lamps
- compact fluorescent and energy-saving lamps
- discharge lamps, including high-pressure sodium vapour lamps and metal halide lamps,
- low-pressure sodium vapour lamps
More information on the correct disposal of technical luminaires is available in the Lighting Know-how section of this website. For more info about recycling lamps, consult the AGLV working group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Lampenverwertung) of manufacturers and lamp recyclers within the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association ZVEI or Lightcycle GmbH.