Lamp recycling doesn’t have to be a headache. While convoluted laws and regulations cloud the issue and make compliance seem impossible – or not worth the ffort – it boils down to this: You’re required to recycle and mercury is bad for people and the environment. Here’s how to do the job.
Lighting that contains mercury includes high intensity discharge (HID) lamps,
neon/argon lamps, and fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). While the
amount of mercury contained in these lamps is tiny (usually around 5 milligrams),
their prevalence poses a potential environmental threat. In 1999 the EPA instituted
the Universal Waste Rule (UWR), a law that applies to lighting and other potentially
hazardous materials. According to the EPA, millions of mercury-containing lamps
are sold in the U.S. each year, and most are discarded improperly.
Due to their greater energy efficiency and the mercury released by power plants,
the mercury-containing lamps are responsible for less mercury in the environment than less efficient incandescent lamps without mercury. Still, that fact has not
stopped manufacturers from reducing the mercury in their lamps.
“The lighting industry has aggressively reduced the amount of mercury in these
lamps over the last few decades – by up to 92%,” says Jennifer Dolin, manager of
sustainability and environmental affairs at OSRAM SYLVANIA in Danvers, MA. Nevertheless, lamps need to be recycled to prevent environmental damage.
Although LEDs do not contain mercury or lead, Dolin says they should also be
recycled to recover materials like aluminum. Lamp recyclers process LEDs similarly to other lamp types, even though LEDs contain a chip and can be considered
BY JENNA M. AKER
FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO ENSURE YOUR
ORGANIZATION IS IN COMPLIANCE