Recycling isn’t always an easy thing to figure out. There are so many codes, symbols, and rules… it’s hard to know what to do, especially for the troublesome items like lighters.
If you have a bunch of used lighters piling up in your junk drawer, listen up! You can properly get rid of all that clutter and still be green in the process.
Is it Legal to Throw Away a Lighter?
It’s not illegal to throw away a lighter, but that doesn’t mean you should. The fluid can cause all kinds of damage to our planet.
The sad truth is more than 350 million disposable lighters end up in landfills every year, and some are even eaten by animals. That means our food, land, and water can easily be contaminated by hazardous waste. Yikes!
Can Used Lighters Be Recycled?
Unfortunately, used lighters can’t easily be recycled. Lighters are made from a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and some kind of liquid fuel or gas. It’s a nightmare to try to sort through all of this and recycle it properly.
This might all sound bad. If you can’t throw away your lighters or recycle them, what do you do? Don’t freak out just yet, there are still plenty of green solutions out there!
How to Dispose of Lighters
You shouldn’t throw away lighters nor should you put them in recycling. However, there are plenty of other options for what you can do instead.
Dispose of your lighters by doing either of the following:
- Bring them to a hazardous waste collection event.
- Turn them into a DIY project.
Where Can You Find Waste Collection Events?
One easy way for you to dispose of your lighters is to wait for your town to have a hazardous waste collection day. Some areas even have designated hazardous waste collection centers.
Gather up your used lighters, type in “lighter fluid” and your zip code in Earth 911’s helpful search, and you’ll be met with a collection site near you!
And hey, while you’re at it, why not gather all of your hazardous waste and dispose of it in one swoop?
The list of items that are considered hazardous waste includes:
- Aerosol cans
- Automotive products like antifreeze, motor oil, and brake fluid
- Drywall mud
- Fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides
- Household cleaners
- Nail polish
- Paints, thinners, solvents, and stains
- Photographic chemicals
- Swimming pool chemicals
- Tile glue or asbestos
Earth 911 is just one of many sources out there for finding hazardous waste collection events. Most states and counties are also really good about listing the dates, times, and locations of these events on their respective websites. Hit up Google to see when your town or a town nearby is collecting!
Old BIC lighters come in handy as makeshift bottle openers. Use the base, wedge it underneath the cap, and carefully pull up.
Are you super crafty? Turn your old lighters into mini motorcycles and keep them as decorations in your garage or office.
You can turn your used lighters into a conversation piece! Take inspiration from a DIYer named Diana Sather who made a table from her old BIC lighters and posted it on Pinterest.
Stash your meds, cash, and anything else in your old lighters. You just need to remove the bottom and make sure there’s no fluid left inside.
Your colorful lighters can become a nifty light fixture or piece of wall art. Just be sure there’s no fluid inside of the lighters!
*DISCLAIMER: Please note, these projects are recommended to be done with expert hands. If you’re at all unsure, it’s best to skip the projects or ask the advice of a professional. Lighters are dangerous and need to be handled with care.
How Long Do Refillable Lighters Last?
Brands like Zippo and Ronson have fuel that will last from 1 to 2 weeks. Once the fuel runs out, you simply buy more without having to throw away the lighter.
This makes refillable lighters a more eco-friendly choice than disposable ones. They’re a bit pricier, but if you light a lot of candles or do a lot of smoking, it may be worth the investment.
The Bottom Line
It might seem easy to just toss your lighter in the trash, but that’s not really best for protecting our planet. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to reuse, reduce, and recycle!
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Vick, D. (2018, October 23). How Green is it to Use a Disposable Lighter? Retrieved from,
Beau Turner. Why Does My Zippo Dry Out so Fast? Retrieved from,
How to Dispose of Lighter Fluid. (2019, September 7). How to Dispose of Lighter Fluid. Retrieved from,
Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. How to Recycle/Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste. Retrieved from,
Networx. 10 Creative Reuses for Old Lighters. Retrieved from,