8 out of 10 consumers unaware low energy lamps MUST be recycled

8 out of 10 consumers unaware low energy lamps MUST be recycled

New research commissioned by the Lighting Industry Federation, in partnership with recycling scheme Recolight, the Lighting Association and leading lamp producers, shows a lack of awareness amongst consumers regarding the requirement for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to be recycled.

Of those surveyed, only 18 per cent were aware that CFLs need to be recycled through specialised recycling facilities. When asked what they thought they would do when their old CFLs reached end-of-life, 69 per cent said they would throw them away in the normal household waste.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury giving them their energy-saving properties. Whilst this isn’t harmful on its own, if large quantities of these lamps are left to go to landfill they could be damaging to the environment.

Recolight chief executive Nigel Harvey explains what the findings mean: ‘In the next three to five years we expect larger quantities of CFLs to start reaching end-of-life. It is essential that we raise awareness now of the importance of recycling these lamps so that they don’t end up in landfill.

‘We are working with retailers and local authorities to provide more facilities for consumers to recycle their old lamps, therefore making it easier for people to do so and helping to raise awareness of the issue.  We have also set up a community recycling initiative to enable recycling champions to set up recycling facilities in convenient community locations, using our specially designed collection container.’

The survey also reveals that nearly 8 out of 10 homes (78 per cent) have at least one operating CFL in place, and that 29 per cent no longer have any old style incandescents at all. In total, the research shows that there are approximately 133 million CFLs currently in use in homes across the UK, and the presence of incandescent light sourcess has almost halved in the last three years.

To date, Recolight has funded the recycling of more than 90 million Gas Discharge Lamps (GDLs), which includes domestic CFLs, since July 2007. This figure represents more than a third of a tonne of mercury which would otherwise have entered landfill.

Harvey continues: ‘The research shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that these lamps are recycled properly and not thrown away with the everyday household waste. We hope that by raising awareness of the issue we can help to educate consumers of the importance of recycling their old CFLs and encourage people to do the right thing when the time comes.’

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