Lights out: How to dispose of light bulbs correctly

Light sources contain valuable raw materials such as aluminium or glass, but some also contain highly toxic mercury, which is harmful to people and the environment. This is why disused lights and light sources should always be recycled. But where can I find the nearest disposal centre? And who then takes care of recycling the materials? We explain.

First a quick look at the law: In Switzerland, the Ordinance on the Return, Taking Back and Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (ORDEE) regulates how lights, lamps and cables must be disposed of in Switzerland. It states that consumers are obliged to return luminaires and light sources (obligation to return). In return, sales outlets and retailers that sell luminaires or light sources must take back used lamps free of charge (take-back obligation) and dispose of them properly.

Points of sale or collection points take back used lights and light sources

Used lights and light sources can be returned wherever they can be purchased: from retail outlets and specialist shops to online shops. Public collection centres also take back all types of lights and light sources. Find out where the nearest collection centre is in your area.

What belongs in the light bulb collection

  • Fluorescent tubes (neon tubes)
  • Energy-saving lamps
  • LEDS
  • All types of high and low pressure lamps
  • Luminaires (e.g. floor lamps)

Attention: Light sources such as "light bulbs", LED lamps or fluorescent tubes "neon tubes" do NOT belong in the glass collection!

This does NOT belong in the light bulb collection

  • Packaging material for lights and light sources
  • Incandescent and halogen lamps (belong in the rubbish bin)
  • Fuses (ceramic fuses etc.) are considered construction waste and do not belong in light bulb recycling

Classic incandescent lamps and halogen lamps can be disposed of in the rubbish. They do not contain any harmful substances. However, if you are unsure whether it is an incandescent lamp, a halogen lamp or an energy-saving lamp, it is worth going to the collection centre. You will receive expert advice there.

Are you aware of the advance recycling fee (ARF)?

To enable consumers to return their broken lights and "bulbs" to the point of sale or a collection centre free of charge after use, they pay a so-called advance recycling fee (ARF) when they purchase the appliances. This is already included in the sales price of lights and bulbs and covers the costs of subsequent recycling.

The Swiss eRecycling system: a win-win situation for everyone involved

With the advance recycling contribution (ARC), SENS eRecycling organises the collection, transport and professional disposal of lights and lamps, thereby promoting the Swiss circular economy. The foundation is organised in the private sector and has been dealing with the disposal of electrical and electronic appliances in Switzerland for over 30 years. In January 2021, it took over the Swiss Lighting Recycling Foundation (SLRS) and since then has also been responsible for all lighting-related items.