“Poor CFL Recycling” delays Canada Bulb Ban

As you may have heard,
Canada has delayed their incandescent bulb ban or “phase out”.
More about the decision can be read here.

Meanwhile, the lack of recycling has emerged as a main reason for the delay…

(From CBC Canada  Dec 30 2011 slightly edited)



A lack of recycling options for the mercury-containing compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), touted by government as the environmentally friendly lighting alternative, has in part led to a delay in new federal energy efficiency regulations.

The regulations, which ban 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, were supposed take effect Jan. 1, 2012.
But last month, the federal government quietly delayed that ban by two years, citing recycling issues and “perceived health effects.”


The bulbs contain mercury, a dangerous toxin, and need to be disposed of correctly.
According to Environment Canada, less than 10 per cent of CFLs are recycled. And tens of millions are sold each year.

“[Mercury] can affect our neurological development, especially in children. And for pregnant women, it’s a danger,” said Josh Brandon of the Winnipeg-based Green Action Centre.

“We often think of landfills as a permanent solution — that what we put in the landfills stays in the landfills.
“But landfills eventually do break down. And when they do, the toxic materials like mercury can leach into the environment, polluting our groundwater and our soil.”

Brandon says the mercury from one CFL can contaminate thousands of litres of water.


And if you break a CFL, Health Canada has extensive cleanup instructions that include leaving the room for 15 minutes to avoid mercury vapours.


Few provinces have programs in place to deal with CFLs, and most programs are voluntary.

British Columbia, which passed its own set of energy efficiency regulations on Jan. 1, 2011, requires manufacturers and retailers to develop an end of life plan for CFLs.

But other provinces have minimal, if any, programs in place.

Some big box stores like Home Depot will take them back.
For smaller retailers like Pollock’s Hardware Co-op in Winnipeg, there are few options. General manager Mike Wolchock said he had no luck when he tried to organize a recycling program two years ago.

Environment Canada says it’s working on regulations to make manufacturers recycle the bulbs, but these won’t be in place until 2013.

Some companies are also making CFLs with less mercury.


For the time being, Curran Faris is keeping CFLs out of his daughter’s bedroom, in case a bulb breaks.

“It’s one of those things — as a consumer we should be told that information, not that these are the new miracle bulbs that can stop global warming.”

The light bulb ban is particularly wrong for Canada and several similar American states, as covered on http://ceolas.net/#li11x and relating to energy use, emissions, Canadian household size and lamp variety, cold switch-on conditions, heat replacement effect, existing CFL programs etc with references




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4 responses to ““Poor CFL Recycling” delays Canada Bulb Ban

  1. Recycling mercury-containing products, including CFLs, is an important issue. It is important for consumers to realize that CFLs and fluorescent bulbs require special handling and disposal. Like all mercury-containing fluorescent lights, CFLs should be properly stored, transported and recycled to prevent these fragile bulbs from breaking and emitting hazardous mercury vapor. They cannot be thrown away in the trash, but should be taken to a recycling center or disposed of by using a proven recycling box. However, taking them to a recycling center may not always be the most efficient solution. Consumers can use a recycling box to ship bulbs instead. If consumers choose this option, it is important to select a packaging configuration that effectively contains mercury vapor. A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota tested the effectiveness of various packages in containing mercury vapor emitted from broken fluorescent lamps. The study found that many packages do not sufficiently contain mercury vapor, such as single-layer cardboard boxes (representing the original manufacturer’s box or container) as well as single layer boxes with a sealed plastic bag. Just one configuration—consisting of a zip-closure plastic-foil laminate bag layered between two cardboard boxes—minimized exposure levels below acceptable occupational limits, as defined by state and federal regulations and guidelines. Find out more about this proven packaging method at: http://vaporlok.blogspot.com/2010/05/layers-of-protection-packaging-used.html
    If a bulb breaks, consumers can learn more about clean-up procedures here: http://www.epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup-detailed.html

  2. lighthouse

    Thanks Brad
    Useful information about your product, and indeed general CFL collection issues on your blog http://vaporlok.blogspot.com/
    As you say in a December post..
    “The consumer recycling rate has been estimated to be even lower—possibly at less than 2 percent….”

    A recent post here, https://sendyourlightbulbstowashington.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/lamp-recycling-information/ covers the collection-recycling issue in some detail. Will update with the Vaporlok blog link.

  3. Very fantastic article. As i only just stumbled upon your current blog site and even preferred expressing we need very enjoyed studying your own website blogposts. Anyways I’ll end up following with your blog and even I hope one write-up yet again in the near future.

  4. Bob Turner

    According to a friend that used to work at Rona in Saskatoon – Rona just empties their cfl disposal box into the dumpster behind the store…


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