What they don’t tell you about upgrading your lightbulbs…

Posted on Apr 15, 2015 | No Comments
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What they don’t tell you about upgrading your lightbulbs…

It’s difficult to talk about energy efficiency without also talking about lighting. We all know that one of the quickest and easiest ways to become more energy efficient is to upgrade your lighting. However, what often gets lost in the rush to swap old light globes for more efficient ones, is the question of what happens to those old globes you don’t need anymore.

Currently an estimated 95% of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are disposed of in landfill.  This is a serious environmental concern because CFLs contain mercury, which converts to to the toxic methylmercury and spreads from landfills to water, soil and air.  Although there’s a limited direct risk of poisoning from a broken CFL or fluorescent tube, the eventual accumulation of mercury across the wider environment is a serious hazard (Australian standards limit the amount of mercury in CFLs to less than 5mg and less than 15mg for fluorescent tubes).

Unfortunately, the federal government has not yet mandated the recycling of mercury-containing lamps. However they have launched FluoroCycle, a voluntary product stewardship scheme that seeks to increase the national recycling rate of waste mercury-containing lamps. The scheme targets the commercial and industrial sectors where the bulk of waste lamps are generated.  For more information watch a video about FluroCycle.

According to FluroCycle, most large waste management companies have arrangements to collect and safely dispose of waste lighting through one of Australia’s three waste lamp recyclers: CMA Ecocycle, Ecocycle Australia and Toxfree.

We encourage all our NEEN members to recycle their old light globes

  • For more information about where to recycle CFLs in your state or territory, visit the FluroCycle website.
  • For more information about  Australia’s poor governance on mercury, see this recent article by The Fifth Estate.
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