Sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs in the United States are down 25% from their peak in 2007, according to a story in the New York Times. Even better, shipments of these dangerous mercury-containing light bulbs are down 49% from 2007.
Compact flourescent light bulbs cannot succeed on their merits. Government bans of incandescent light bulbs are the main source of damand for CFL bulbs. In addition, CFL bulbs have relied heavily on give-aways and subsidies. But even these measures aren’t working:
Despite more than a decade of costly C.F.L. promotions — including giveaways, discounted prices and rebates — the bulbs have failed to capture the hearts (and sockets) of American consumers….[I]n regions where C.F.L. campaigns have been heaviest, 75 percent of screw-based sockets still contain incandescents. Nationally, about 90 percent of residential sockets are still occupied by incandescents, D.O.E. has reported.
Incandescent light bulbs continue to be the first choice of most consumers because they produce better light, they’re cheaper, they don’t contain mercury, and it’s not illegal to throw them in the trash after they stop working.
“The Philippine government and the Asian Development Bank launched a campaign today (Sept. 26) to replace power-hungry incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lamps,” according to a story at PhilStar.com.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, one 0f the most toxic substances on Earth. Mercury causes brain damage. It makes water unsafe to drink. It makes fish unsafe to eat. So this effort by the Phillipine government and the Asian Development Bank is seriously misguided.
But it gets worse:
In the first large-scale “Switch to CFL” program in Asia, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ADB officials exchanged energy-saving CFLs for old-fashioned incandescent bulbs in the homes of 2,000 poor families in Manila’s Tondo district.
Isn’t it bad enough to be poor in Manila without the government confiscating your safe light bulbs and forcing you to use dangerous ones?
Mercury-laden compact fluorescent light bulbs will overwhelm recycling programs in Minnesota, according to Dave Dempsey at CleanTechnica.com:
A surge in the number of mercury-bearing energy-efficient light bulbs in use in Minnesota is expected to overwhelm recycling programs in the next few years and there’s no plan yet on how to recycle more of them…
The number of recycled compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) available for recycling in the state is expected to rise from 346,000 in 2008 to 2,419.000 in 2011 as federal and state energy efficiency mandates kick in. Minnesota’s 2008 CFL recycling rate was one of the highest among the states at an estimated 37%, and much of the Gopher State has nearby recycling options.
But many of the state’s consumers aren’t aware that CFLs need to be recycled to contain the mercury. While 73.1% of the state’s households use at least one CFL, only 39% of respondents to a survey knew that recycling of the bulbs is required by Minnesota law.
Local household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs receive the majority of Minnesota’s recycled CFLs, with home improvement and hardware stores taking back the bulk of the rest. Because most of the local HHW programs are largely funded by county taxes, it’s unclear whether or how funding to expand them will be made available.
If the state’s recycling rate doesn’t improve, Minnesotans will soon be throwing over 1,500,000 CFL bulbs in the trash every year. That’s enough mercury to pollute 1,000,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels every year in each of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.
Congress has gone green, according to a story in USA Today. The House of Representatives has switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Over 4,000 of these light bulbs have been installed in Senate buildings.
So when we say your Senators and Congressmen will know what to do with your burnt out or broken compact fluorescent light bulbs, we’re not kidding.
Go ahead! Send your light bulbs to Washington. They’re the experts. They’ll know what to do with them.
The European Union has admitted that compact fluorescent light bulbs aren’t as bright as traditional incandescent light bulbs, and that claims about the amount of light they produce are exaggerated, according to a report in the Telegraph:
Buyers of the main type of energy-saving bulb, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), are told on the packaging that they shine as brightly as an old-fashioned bulb. For example, an 11W CFL is labelled as being the equivalent of a 60W incandescent bulb.
However, the European Commission, which was responsible for the ban, has now conceded that this is “not true” and that such claims by manufacturers are “exaggerated”.
The Sunday Telegraph has conducted its own tests on level of illuminance provided by light bulbs from different manufacturers to see whether their claims stand up to scrutiny.
We found that under normal household conditions, using a single lamp to light a room, an 11W low-energy CFL produced only 58 per cent of the illumination of an “equivalent” 60W bulb – even after a 10-minute “warm-up”.
The whole campaign for switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs seems to be built on a series of lies. Governments who have believed these lies and banned incandescent light bulbs are making hundreds of millions of people pay for the consequences of their stupidity.