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The Parade Of The Bulbs: Incandescent, CFL, LED And The First Light Bulb Recycling Machine

The Parade of the Bulbs: Incandescent, CFL, LED and the First Light Bulb Recycling Machine

light bulbs recycling

Ever since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, humans have had a safe, predictable way of lighting their nightly activities. Soon the electric light bulb filled street lamps and found its way into the homes of everyday people. Using a kerosene lamp or candle for lighting eventually became irrelevant and nearly unheard of.

The invention of the light bulb revolutionized the world, and today we still march on to the steady beat of innovation. Edison’s light bulbs were incandescent, and people have since sought to improve them even further.

Light Bulb Options

CFL bulbs, commonly called fluorescent light bulbs, use far less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and have been championed by many in the modern environmental movement. Technological advances have made them extremely inexpensive and able to light a room with the familiar warm glow of an incandescent bulb.

They have been attacked for many potentially harmful ingredients, however, and critics have questioned their ultimate benefit to the environment. They require special disposal that may be too much of a hassle for the average household, though they don’t need to be changed nearly as frequently as incandescent light bulbs.

In the wake of the CFL bulb’s questionable environmental credibility, another alternative took the scene by storm. Light-emitting diodes, otherwise known as LED lights, are known to the average consumer in the form of displays on electronics such as alarm clocks and, more recently, televisions.

These bulbs last extremely long, emit almost no heat and are extremely energy efficient. The technology is the clear way of the future, and advances should be expected.

As it stands, however, the bulb is currently an expensive option, and the light is directional. Whereas incandescent and CFL bulbs radiate light evenly out from the bulb, the light from an LED bulb is pointed in one direction.

CFL bulbs are currently the least expensive option if 30,000 hours worth of energy costs are included, but that should be expected to change rapidly as LED technology develops. LED bulbs still lead incandescent light bulbs which, despite their low sticker price, are the most expensive of all when energy is factored in. Individuals must decide where their priorities lie when balancing cost, quality and environmental friendliness of these different options. LED is expected to eventually be the best option in each category as technology develops.

Light Bulb Recycling

Whatever bulbs an individual buys or society as a whole uses, an undeniable part of lighting the world in an environmentally-responsible manner is recycling those bulbs safely.

It’s particularly crucial at this juncture where CFL bulbs represent the cheapest option but contain chemicals such as mercury that are environmentally-hazardous and difficult for the average family to dispose of. A UK corporation recently solved that problem with a completely safe light bulb recycling machine.

It looks like a vending machine, and it’s completely user friendly and safe. It doesn’t require staff to handle potentially hazardous material, and it utilizes an automated soft drop system that ensures all light bulbs end up in the proper place without breaking. The machine issues users a voucher as a reward for recycling that can be used for product discounts and sales.


While incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs all have their advantages and disadvantages, more energy-efficient alternatives win out over incandescent as a whole. In addition, the LED light is expected to be the perfect bulb in the next three to five years.

The march of progress hasn’t only been beneficial for the environment, but also for consumers. An easy way to recycle light bulbs completes another step toward making lighting environmentally-friendly.

This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at Emergency Light Batteries.


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