Tag Archives: EPA

Green lighting: Ways to cut costs and save energy

Starting in July, the U.S. Department of Energy has new regulations to upgrade old, inefficient, mercury-laden fluorescent light bulbs. About 500 million of the lights, called T12, need to be replaced. The change will save $10 billion a year in energy costs nationwide.

There are at least two kinds of lamps that are more energy efficient than the 80-year-old T12 tubes – T8, developed in the 1980s, and T5, which were produced in the mid-1990s. According to Katrin Mehler, president of the Miami-based company LUXADD, a leading lighting solution provider, upgrading to the T5 light is the best – though not necessarily the easiest – choice.

“The T5 has the best lumen maintenance, and it has an extremely low mercury content. It doesn’t evaporate like in the old tubes,” Mehler says. “But it is shorter in size, and that’s a big problem because it requires a different fixture and changing a fixture is very expensive.”

Mehler says one alternative to having to rip out a fixture and put in a new one is a new T5 fluorescent lighting adapter, recently introduced by LUXADD. The company’s Express T5 Retrofit Kit Series is designed to retrofit old T12 light fixtures to the T5 fixtures without the significant costs of parts and labor to replace the entire fixture. The T5 saves up to 73 percent on lighting energy costs and reduces a company’s carbon footprint by up to 60 percent. And because the T5 tubes don’t produce the same amount of heat as the old T12 bulbs, businesses will also save about 15 percent on air conditioning costs, Mehler says.

Retrofitting fluorescents has brought happy side effects. “Most of the time (the buildings) have been overlit to begin with, so we can go from four T12 to two T5 and nobody’s going to know,” she says. “It’s a little less lumen, but it’s still enough light.”

She says one client, from a CPA company, also noticed a noted difference in temperature after changing to the T5 lamps.

“He could never close the door of his office because the T12s were getting so hot and the air conditioning couldn’t go against it, and ever since he’s had T5s, he can close the door,” she says.

Mehler pointed out that some people are opting to switch to the T8 light because it doesn’t require a new fixture, as it has the same pins and length as the T12.

“But it’s still 30-year-old technology; it’s not a new technology at all,” she says. “What you really want to do if you retrofit and spend (big) money, you want to go all the way. You don’t want to get stuck halfway and go only to T8. You want to go to T5.”

Mehler says T5 tubes are also much better for the eyes than another type of energy-efficient light – LED.

“LED still has the bluish effect, like the ‘Twilight Zone’ … and T5 has a beautiful light,” she says.

Mehler says that with the savings in lighting and cooling costs, the Express T5 Retrofit Kit Series pays for itself within one year. Companies can add to their savings by installing things such as occupancy sensors, which detect motion in a room and turn on and off accordingly, as well as dimmers, which vary the brightness of a light.

“There are a lot of possibilities for consumers and companies to save on energy,” she says. 

BY TAWNY MAYA MCCRAY via Illinois Times

Full Circle, Part 4: NLR – The Green Apple

For whatever reason, the light bulb will not go off in the collective conscience of most American businesses when it comes to complying with the Universal Waste Rule.

Even though the rule has been a part of a federal regulation of the Environment Protection Agency since 1990, Raymond Graczyk said that only about 30 percent of private businesses properly handle the removal of universal waste such as mercury-containing light bulbs, batteries and ballasts – even though the numerous toxic effects of mercury poisoning has been well documented for years and years. Those effects include damage to the brain, kidney and lungs.

“What happens with mercury is that it accumulates in the environment, so when you’re getting hundreds and hundreds and millions of lamps being thrown out a year that  mercury is released to the environment and then it finds its way back into the food chain, especially in fish,” said Graczyk, who is the co-founder and president of NLR, a company based north of Hartford, Conn., that specializes in lamp and universal recycling services for mainly commercial businesses. “[Awareness] is increasing some but it’s not as rapidly as it should be. It’s hard to say and necessarily come up with a reason why… Whether people aren’t properly informed. Whether they don’t care. I don’t know. Maybe they don’t realize how really available and easy it is to recycle.”

raczyk was working in the electric wholesale business before helping start NLR as a response to the EPA’s new regulations and the relative lack of a facility needed to process mercury-containing light bulbs in the Northeast. “There wasn’t any viable solution at that point in time,” he said.

NLR began with lamps — according to the company’s website it has recycled more than 300 million linear feet of lamp waste — and then quickly expanded to electronics and battery recycling and similar services. The company has more than a thousand customers in New York City alone, Graczyk said. He added that the company has clients all over the Northeast, stretching from Maine to Maryland.

“What we do at our company is keep a lot of mercury out of the environment,” said Graczyk, who also serves as the president of the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers, which has an “Education and Resources” page on its website.

Here’s how it works: A large blue and yellow machine (see above) crushes the lamps and removes calcium phosphate powder that contains the mercury from the glass. The metal and glass is then separated. The phosphate powder then is sent off for a process called retorting where the mercury is reclaimed through the powder. In the case of lamp recycling and all other similar processes, the raw materials, such as aluminum from a lamp or nickel from a battery, is smelted to later be made into a variety of products.

At the moment, the main involvement NLR at the residential level is only through partnerships that have been arranged with municipal transfer stations throughout the area. That could change, though, as more Americans begin using compact florescent lights in their homes with the federal ban of traditional 100-watt bulbs. Furthermore, manufacturers will stop producing 75-watt bulbs on Jan. 1, 2012, but will be allowed to make 60- and 40-watt bulbs until 2014.

“I’m sure as the use of compact fluorescents becomes more prevalent than we definitely will be more involved on the residential side,” Gracyzk said. “When you throw out florescent bulbs, they don’t even make it to the landfill. They’ll start releasing into the environment from the dumpster because they get broken right away.”

Does your company use services such as the ones provided by NLR? What are your thoughts on the spread of mercury into the environment in regards to light bulbs? We’d love to hear from you on the topic.

via Full Circle, Part 4: NLR – The Green Apple.

Legislator Aims to Foster Instrastate Manufacture, Sale of Incandescent Bulbs – Sun Gazette Newspapers: News

A state legislator is hoping to find a away around the federal government’s ban on manufacturing of incandescent light bulbs.

Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) has introduced legislation that would permit the State Corporation Commission to oversee manufacturing and distribution of the light bulbs within Virginia’s borders.

Such an intrastate effort conceivably could skirt federal rules, adopted during the Bush administration, which mandate phasing out the manufacture of incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient lighting sources.

Marshall’s legislation anticipates that the federal government would challenge such a measure; it directs the state attorney general’s office to represent any manufacturer of incandescent bulbs in Virginia in any litigation brought by federal officials or anyone else using federal law as the basis for a suit.

via Legislator Aims to Foster Instrastate Manufacture, Sale of Incandescent Bulbs – Sun Gazette Newspapers: News.

Waste & Recycling News – EPA fines Iowa company for hazardous waste violations

Sept. 27 — A steel castings facility in Iowa has agreed to pay a $54,786 civil penalty and clean up residual used oil as part of a settlement with the U.S. EPA over violations of federal hazardous waste regulations.

Sivyer Steel Corporation of Bettendorf, Iowa, committed several violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, including operating a hazardous waste facility without a permit, the EPA said. The agency inspected the facility in March 2010 and noted the violations, including failure to comply with hazardous waste generator requirements.

The company must act within 30 days to show that its used oil containers and universal waste lamp containers are properly maintained and labeled.

via Waste & Recycling News – EPA fines Iowa company for hazardous waste violations.

Waste & Recycling News | Waste Management/Recycling/Landfill Headlines

Sept. 14 — Waste Management Inc. will pay a $118,800 civil penalty for hazardous waste violations at a Kaiser, Mo., location and a nearby staging area.

The company´s subsidiary Waste Management LampTracker Inc. collects and recycles universal waste lamps, mercury-containing equipment and batteries at the site, according to the U.S. EPA.An August 2010 inspection by the EPA found what the agency called “multiple issues with inadequate waste container management, inadequate facility management and failures to comply with universal waste requirements.

“Specifically, the company failed to maintain adequate aisle space in storage areas, failed to close and labor hazardous waste containers and failed to close universal waste containers. The company also failed to sample crushed glass to test for mercury levels, the EPA said.

In agreeing to the settlement, the company certified that operations now comply with all requirements of its Missouri Hazardous Waste Permit and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the agency said.

via Waste & Recycling News | Waste Management/Recycling/Landfill Headlines.

Bulb Myths Debunked

(NAPSI)—Here’s a bright idea: It may be time to get with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Soon, standard incandescent bulbs are going away as a result of continued demand for more energy-efficient lighting products as well as U.S. federal lighting efficiency standards. This means energy-efficient alternatives such as CFLs are becoming even more commonplace.

Though CFLs save considerable money on electricity bills and light homes with a bright, white light, myths still surround them.

To help, industry-leading experts from GE Lighting are shedding some light on myths and questions, including lighting legislation changes, at www.gelighting.com/2012. Among the myths:

Myth: CFLs contain high levels of mercury. GE CFLs contain a very small amount, 2 milligrams on average, which is smaller than a ballpoint pen tip. By comparison, older home thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury. It would take literally hundreds of CFLs to equal those amounts.

Myth: If I break a bulb, I need to see a doctor. Scientists employed by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the amount of mercury a person is exposed to in cleaning up a broken lamp is equivalent to a bite of tuna, and even the worst-case CFL breakage scenario measured by one state EPA was equivalent to eating just a single meal of albacore tuna.

Myth: CFLs are too expensive. CFL costs have decreased significantly in recent years. Some cost less than $2 when part of a multipack.

Myth: CFLs produce an unattractive blue light. Today’s CFLs can produce a soft, white light in color ranges similar to incandescents. Look for Kelvin numbers on packaging. Bulbs with a 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin (K) number emit a warmer, yellower color. Those with a 3,500 K to 6,500 K number emit a bluer or whiter light.

Myth: CFLs give people headaches. Anecdotal reports of headaches are very rare, and there is currently no scientific evidence that CFLs cause headaches. While older, long-tube fluorescent bulbs in industrial settings could have caused headaches due to their noticeable flicker rate, today’s CFLs operate at a faster frequency to eliminate flickering. To learn more about advancements in CFL technologies, as well as halogen and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulb options, visit www.gelighting.com.

via Bulb Myths Debunked | njtoday.net – Everything New Jersey.

Yonkers launches fluorescent bulb recycling

Under the terms of an enforcement agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City of Yonkers has initiated a program to recycle fluorescent light bulbs, as well as light ballasts and electronic waste, known as E-waste. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which can be released if the bulbs are broken. By collecting and recycling these bulbs from city residents, Yonkers will be helping to reduce the release of mercury to the environment.

In 2008, EPA inspected various buildings belonging to Yonkers and requested documentation regarding the city’s spent bulb recycling efforts. After the city did not adequately respond, EPA cited the city for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.

Agency regulations require that spent mercury and other toxic metal-containing bulbs from business, industry and government be handled as hazardous waste, which means they must be disposed of in specially licensed facilities. As an alternative, they can be handled under simpler universal waste rules to encourage their recycling.

Under the terms of the settlement, Yonkers will begin collecting spent fluorescent bulbs, light ballasts and e-waste from Yonkers residents. The city will widely publicize the program.

via American Recycler, May 2011 | Yonkers launches fluorescent bulb recycling.

Tanning Over The Truth

Yesterday I spent some time perusing some forums for a particular business that uses fluorescent lamps to see how they were handling their lamp recycling. What I found was more shocking than George Hamilton‘s fake tan! There were owners that actually said they would rather throw them in the dumpster or in the woods because it was cheaper than properly recycling. I remember a few years back I saw one of these posts and replied to the forum just offering some information and a solution to consider. Next thing I know another company jumps in saying their recycling box is cheaper. Funny part is was that the other company is a broker and also charges shipping. It turned into a whole post/reply war of which service was better with all the other forum users just sitting back  laughing at us, but who is the joke really on? The below are real posts (whether in jest or not there is always a grain of truth):

“Well, I throw mine in the trash.”

“Wait til after dark. Then put them in your comps dumpster.”

“We have this beautiful big blue dumpster behind our salon that we just throw all the old bulbs right into. We keep a few boxes of extra bulbs in the back for marketing.”

“…just use a couple of plastic bags and a hammer on them first lol”

“Dumpsters goooood. Paying to recycle badddddddddd!”


There were people on the forums expressing their dismay at some of the posts and did include information about the laws and proper recycling. Its the law but business owners choose not to comply. Why? To save money? To save time? To save effort? Or is it more of an education piece? Everything is funny until the EPA comes knocking and racks up the fines for improper storage and recycling. At that point see if putting them in a dumpster is as funny as writing checks to pay the fines.

Get educated on your state’s universal waste laws for lamp recycling and see what recycling solution is right for you.


Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out

Cleanup and Safe Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs | US EPA

EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local options for recycling CFLs, other fluorescent bulbs and all household hazardous wastes rather than disposing of them in regular household trash.

View information about CFL recycling and disposal requirements specifically for businesses.

Why is recycling CFLs important?

How and where can I recycle CFLs?

Why is Recycling CFLs Important?

Recycling prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs often break when thrown into a dumpster, trash can or compactor, or when they end up in a landfill or incinerator. Learn more about CFLs and mercury.

Other materials in the bulbs get reused. Recycling CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights. Virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled.

Your area may require recycling. Some states and local jurisdictions have more stringent regulations than U.S. EPA does, and may require that you recycle CFLs and other mercury-containing light bulbs. California, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts Exit EPA Disclaimer , for example, all prohibit mercury-containing lamps from being discarded into landfills. Visit Earth911.com Exit EPA Disclaimer to contact your local waste collection agency, which can tell you if such requirement exists in your state or locality.

via Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out | Cleanup and Safe Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs | US EPA.

Business Lamp Recycling 101

Sometimes the best way to start is at the beginning:

#1 Lamp Recycling is the Law
#2 Lamp Recycling helps business stay in compliance and not get fined by the EPA (see #1)
#3 Throwing out even 1 lamp in a dumpster or garbage is illegal (see #1)
#4 Not properly recycling has big environmental impacts (see #1)

Can you guess the main point of the above? Yes the proper recycling of lamps is the laws. The regulations vary from state to state but the requierments are there. Many businesses are still unaware of this. If you are a business entity (including non-profits, schools, hospitals, restaurant) you have responsibilities under the Universal Waste Rule to recycle.  Time and time again we will get calls either the day before the EPA is set to audit a facility or after they have gotten a fine.  It is required if you have only 1 employee or even 1000.  The the availability of pre-paid mail back programs and bulk pick-up service really can make the possibility of fines and non-compliance a non-issue for most businesses.

Now you just need to know if you are a small or large quantity generator. More on that tomorrow….but first a short video on how not to recycle lamps (at least they are using jacketed)