60W incandescent bulbs are due to be finally withdrawn from sale in the EU on 1 September, following on the trail of all higher-wattage bulbs which began to be withdrawn two years ago, but there are worries that the mercury-containing CFL bulbs that are replacing them will contaminate the environment.
The old, energy-wasting light bulbs chief replacements are compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, which are up to 80% more efficient and last up to seven times longer.
Light Emitting Diode LEDs lamps are catching up in terms of popularity, price and market availability, however. They have progressed a long way in the last three years in the quality of light they can offer, and the variety of luminaires and fittings on sale.
LEDs can be up to 95% more efficient, consuming only 1-3W for the same amount of light as the old type, but lasting 80,000 hours.
Halogen lamps, with between 25% and 50% energy savings in relation to incandescent bulbs, are still being permitted, but many LED luminaires can now duplicate their effects and functions without wasting the power they consume as heat.
Householders stand to make significant savings by using the new bulbs. The Energy Saving Trust calculates that a home with 15 light bulbs would save about £90 a year by installing them.
Three million tonnes of carbon emissions a year would also be saved when all homes switch to low-energy bulbs, equivalent to a two per cent reduction of the total carbon dioxide emissions from UK households from 2006 levels.
All lighting must now carry a minimum energy rating of class C, rising to class B on 1 September 2016.
Hazardous wasteCFLs are classed as hazardous waste, primarily because they contain up to 5mg of mercury per bulb.The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Defra has said the bulbs are unlikely to cause harm even if the lamp were to be broken, and the Lighting Association and CIWM the Chartered Institute of Waste Management also argue that any health and environmental damage caused by the mercury in landfill is “unlikely to be significant” because of the low amount per bulb.
They say that in comparing the impact of the old incandescent bulbs and CFLs over their respective lifetimes, CFLs produce less mercury, due to the mercury emitted at power stations in the course of producing the extra electricity that incandescents need.CFLs must, however, be disposed of according to the recommendations of the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment WEEE Regulations, which require all distributors of CFLs to join take-back schemes.
A full list of take-back sites is published online by Valpak.Currently there are no regular kerbside collections of WEEE. Therefore there are concerns that most people just wont bother to recycle them.As a result, Recolight, a producer-led compliance scheme specialising in the recycling of CFLs, is running a public awareness campaign from next week to encourage people to recycle the spent bulbs by returning them to the sellers or directly to civic amenity recycling sites.
It also offers free lamp and light bulb collection services. For commercial users who can collect over 1,000 lamps every 12 weeks, it will also provide a free container and free collection of lamps.Nigel Harvey, its chief executive, said: “As a not-for-profit organisation our key objective is to increase the amount of lamps being recycled and keep this hazardous waste stream out of landfill.”Traditional incandescent lamps are not required to be recycled in the same way as CFLs as they are not classed as WEEE.
They can currently be included with normal residual waste – although we will recycle any that are inadvertently included in our collection bins.“Recolight is already running a schools education project, with 700 schools across the UK, to help increase awareness of the need to recycle CFLs,” he added.Concerns that CFLs affect the health of a minority of people who suffer from flicker or exposure to ultraviolet light have been calmed by the Health and Safety Executive which says that shading the bulb either physically to direct the UV light away from the user or with a filter to stop UV emissions, or using a double-encapsulated bulb can render it safe for such people.
via Light bulb phase-out prompts fears of low CFL recycling rate | Energy and Environmental Management EAEM Magazine.