LED is the future and the environment thanks you

LED light sources are long-lasting, efficient and come in a wide variety of colours and shapes. At the same time, they contain valuable raw materials. This is why used LEDs should be recycled. There, the recyclable materials they contain can be reprocessed and fed back into the cycle. A benefit for the environment and the circular economy.

The three letters LED stand for Light Emitting Diode, which means "light emitting diode". Originally, LEDs were only available in the colours red, green and yellow. Thanks to technological progress, they now also light up in blue, pink, white or orange. Their luminosity is now also so high that LEDs are used everywhere: In torches, spotlights, traffic lights, displays or in the modern lighting of private and business premises. Thanks to their small size, diverse shapes and colour spectra, LED lamps have quickly replaced incandescent bulbs, halogen and energy-saving lamps. No wonder: with the same light output, they require up to 90% less electricity than incandescent lamps and have a service life of up to 50,000 hours compared to just 1000 hours for a normal incandescent lamp. Accordingly, they also need to be replaced much less frequently. In addition, unlike fluorescent or energy-saving lamps, they contain no mercury and only very small quantities of harmful substances, which are harmless to humans and the environment. If LEDs are disposed of properly, the recyclable materials they contain can be returned to the raw material cycle thanks to modern recycling facilities.

LEDs contain valuable metals

LEDs are made from semiconductors and, depending on the colour, contain a mixture of indium, gallium, germanium or cadmium. They all have special chemical and physical properties that are needed in the high-tech industry. These valuable metals are also used in LCD televisions, smartphones and notebooks, high-performance batteries for electric and hybrid cars, fuel cells and wind turbines. As their supplies are limited and the metals are often extracted under difficult conditions, it is important that all these devices containing such metals are recycled at the end of their service life. In this way, you make an important contribution to the environment and strengthen the circular economy.

Free disposal at SENS collection points

In Switzerland, LEDs are subject to the Ordinance on the Return, Taking Back and Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (ORDEE). Consumers can therefore return used LEDs to points of sale free of charge in the same way as other electrical or electronic appliances or dispose of them at official SENS collection points.

LED recycling

In addition to the valuable metals, which make up around 5% of an LED, LEDs consist of 88% glass and around 7% plastics. To make it easier to recycle the individual components, the recycling companies break down the light sources into their individual components. However, this is not always easy: LEDs are often put together differently, which makes it difficult to separate the materials cleanly. Sometimes the housing is made of glass, sometimes of plastic, sometimes the base is made of aluminium or flame-retardant plastics. In some LEDs, the valuable semiconductors are clearly visible, while in others they are hidden in a ceramic housing. Modern recycling plants are used in Switzerland to extract all these valuable materials from the LEDs.

Good to know

Ordinary light bulbs and halogen lamps are not subject to the Ordinance on the Return, Take-Back and Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (VREG) as they do not contain any harmful substances. They can therefore be disposed of with normal household waste. However, if you are unsure what type of bulb you have in your hands, it is worth asking at the nearest point of sale or the nearest SENS collection centre.