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Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

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It is undisputed that LED lamps have become the leading lighting technology, offering the benefits of energy savings, longevity and quality of light. With the rise of their popularity, several of our customers have inquired as to the regulations regarding their proper disposal and recycling.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s publication W-HW4-62: “Although the bulb portion of most light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not hazardous and thus not (Universal Waste) lamps, the circuit board to which the LEDs are attached is a regulated electronic waste in Minnesota.” See more from the MPCA on E-waste recycling here.

Some of the reasoning behind the MPCA’s decision to regulate these devices is found in the materials used to construct the lamps themselves. Circuit boards have long been known to contain toxic lead solder (along with several other toxic substances), and is regulated in the State of Minnesota.

To help illustrate the situation, we have taken apart several screw-in style LED bulbs to show the hidden circuit board. Red arrows annotate the photographs and highlight the silver colored solder.


 If you happen to be outside of the State of Minnesota, be sure to check with your local authorities as to the regulations in your area. Even if your State permits you to “throw them away”, the better choice is to recycle them. After all, why would you just landfill them, knowing that your decision will have a lasting impact on our environment, and the world that our children will inherit.

With over 25 years in the lighting and environmental business, we know about LED lighting and waste regulations!

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the regulations of LED lamps and fixtures: 

Consult our haz waste team

If you have not yet made the change to LED lighting, we can help there too! There are many things to consider when making the move to LED; don't take on the project alone:  

Consult a Lighting Pro










Which TRC topics were most popular in 2016?

In 2016, The Retrofit Companies shared over 40 posts and original articles on this blog. Today, we share the topics that were most popular for you to consider whether you are trying to learn more about LED lighting myths or to better understand mercury waste. Keep reading for links to the most popular TRC blog posts of 2016.

We outline the top 4 Myths about LED Lighting in this popular blog post. Learn why all LED products are not created equal, and find out what factors in 2017 make this technology more approachable and affordable than ever.


What is the problem with mercury waste? Is it dangerous? How is it processed and recycled? Get these answers and more by reading "Understanding Mercury Waste." 


We share 9 Signs You Should Invest in LED Lighting including factors such as the availability of rebates, monthly utility bills that seem too high, and the need to remain nimble in changing business environments. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may benefit from this helpful article!


This video shows exactly what happens in two instances when linear LED T8 lamps are incorrectly installed. Maybe you are considering these products for your efficiency measures in 2017, but we recommend watching this video and learning more about linear LED T8 replacements.


In 2016, TRC was given an Energy Efficiency Partner Award from Xcel Energy. Recipients are given the award "for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact." You can see some TRC project case studies on the Xcel Energy website.


If you need lighting or recycling service consultations, our staff is ready to help. Contact TRC any time!

Consult a Lighting Pro


Consult our haz waste team

Myths about LED Lighting and LED Light Bulbs

The continuing advancement of technology keeps every industry on their toes. The lighting industry is no different. The search for a more efficient and economical bulb is a never ending task. If you have recently looked into a lighting upgrade there’s a good chance you have heard about LEDs. They are the latest and greatest in lighting technology and are a viable option for almost any application in any climate. Let’s explore some of the myths you’ve heard about LEDs and find out what is actually true about this lighting option.

Not familiar with LED lighting? Here’s a refresher.


MYTH 1: LEDs Sound Good, But They Are Too Expensive

The multiple Pros of LED Lighting are often overshadowed by a single Con. LEDs are expensive! It is hard to justify retrofitting to LEDs when there are other efficient, less expensive options. If you are able to look past the price, the benefits of an LED upgrade supersede all alternatives.

      • The Light Emitting Diode itself is the most efficient lighting technology yet.
      • The LEDs effectively emit light in specific directions instead of scattering it to all spaces, reducing light pollution.
      • Incandescent lamps waste up to 90% of their energy as heat. LEDs waste very little energy.
      • In certain conditions a single bulb can last over 20 years. This cuts labor hours of maintenance, costs of replacement bulbs, and of course the savings on the utility bill over that time will make up for the initial cost.

There are some other ways to limit the damage to your wallet. Some utility companies offer rebates as an incentive to upgrade to LEDs. Visit and see if your energy provider is currently offering rebates on LEDs. There are other incentives offered for commercial properties who are upgrading to LED fixtures as well. Rebates for well designed projects that save a lot of energy can add up quickly and take thousands of dollars off the cost of a light retrofit project.  Ask your lighting professional if project or equipment rebates for lighting are available in your area.

In summary: LED technology can be expensive, but shopping smart and looking for rebates means savings keep stacking up over time. Get excited about investing in LED lighting.

2017 Update:  With an increased market saturation, improvements in manufacturing, and overproduction of LED products, the price points are more approachable than ever for this energy-efficient lighting option! 

MYTH 2: An LED is an LED is an LED…

As LEDs have become the new standard for energy efficient lighting, there are more and more options when it comes to choosing a brand or product that works for you. Some customers think, “It does the same job so brand doesn’t matter.” Price and convenience should not be deciding factors when choosing LEDs. Do your research.  A lighting upgrade is an investment. What you spend on quality LED fixtures will come back to you in the long run. If you would buy another product that will last up to 20 years, would you really choose the cheapest available option? Buy from a reputable company that offers guarantees with their product. Here is a brand comparison between an LED bulb that would replace an incandescent, you will be surprised to see that the national brand has a better warranty AND a better price!


LED A - National Brand

LED B - Generic Company





6 years

2 years


Energy Star Rating



In summary: Upgrading to a cheap LED can sometimes be a step backward. The household names in lighting are leading the way in LEDs. Recognizable brands invest in the research, manufacturing, and testing to ensure you receive the highest quality product. Also, as you can see, their manufacturing capacity allows them to offer quality products at lower prices. Not all companies can offer the credentials, warranties, and most bang-for-your-buck of a National Brand.


MYTH 3: I’ve Heard They Last Forever

Another common talking point with LEDs is that they last forever. This is technically not the case. Unless an actual component in the LED fails, they will provide light “forever.” While LEDs do not burn out like fluorescent lamps and other bulbs they will however degrade and dim over time. The diode itself will begin to emit less and less light as the years pass. Still, LED lamps can last over 25,000 hours. This is over 20 times longer than an incandescent bulb and 5 times longer than most Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL).

Protect your LED Investment. Tips for maximum life:

      • Do Not Overheat The diodes and components of an LED bulb are very hot. As you have probably noticed, LED bulbs are covered with heat sinks to displace this heat. Never put LEDs in fully enclosed fixtures or warmer areas. Overheating is the most common reason for LED failure and the most preventable.
      • Use LED compatible dimmers Not all dimmers are universal. Avoid headaches and early failures by using the correct dimmers. Ask your supplier which dimmers work with your LED product.
      • Choose the Proper Application LEDs are so customizable that there are specialty bulbs and fixtures for almost every application. Know if your LED bulb will perform in your current climate, environment, or space beforehand.

In Summary: While LED technology has an amazing long life, it does need to be mindfully employed to give you the benefits it offers. Be sure to use the correct lighting product for your application, whether it be an elevator, bathroom, parking lot or factory, the best solution is the one designed to do the job.


MYTH 4: I don’t like CFLs so I won’t like LEDs

It wasn’t too long ago that Compact Fluorescent Lamps were the next best thing for lighting. While they are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, some attributes of CFLs were not universally liked. Let’s examine some common complaints and see what LEDs have done differently:

      • I hate the color of bulbs that aren’t incandescent. Old habits die hard. We have been using incandescent bulbs for almost 100 years. Most customers are accustomed to that color of light and are not fond of the ‘white light’ of CFLs. LEDs allow us to correct this by manipulating the color of each diode in order to match the light of an incandescent. To get the type of light you want, be sure to reference the Color Temperature, measured in degrees Kelvin, of the product before you buy it. A lower number, like 2700K is closer to incandescent than the brighter, bluer color temperature of 5000K.
      • CFL’s have hazardous mercury in them. Like linear fluorescent lamps, CFLs also contain small amounts of mercury. There is no exposure risk with LEDs because they do not contain mercury or other hazardous materials.
      • They don’t get bright enough in the cold weather and it seems like they take a long time to warm up when I turn them on. CFLs are extremely sensitive to climate. They are not ideal for the elements or changes in temperature. LEDs light up instantly and performance is rarely limited by climate.
      • The CFLs always burn out quickly, especially in my fan – LEDs are more durable, last longer, and are not affected by vibrations or movement.

In Summary: Don’t assume you will not like LED bulbs based on your past experience with CFLs. The reasons customers do not care for CFLs have been addressed and improved upon. LEDs are now a legitimate option for replacing incandescent bulbs.


Interested in learning more about energy-efficient lighting?

See how a small LED Retrofit saved $3500 annually!

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