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CFL Recycling Options Abound

epfamilyRecycling companies like are making it easier for businesses to address hazardous waste recycling at their operations. Air Cycle Corp., for instance, has upgraded its online resource, LampRecycling.com to provide businesses with an easier system for recycling their fluorescent bulbs, CFLs, batteries, ballasts, and electronic waste, and tracking their recycling efforts.

Through LampRecycling.com, users set up their own EasyPak Sustainable Recycling Program to order recycling containers and access features like online recycling reports, official certificates of recycling, and EasyPak container tracking. The EasyPak recycling containers are available for a variety of universal waste and are returned via pre-paid FedEx.  Once the waste has been received for recycling, a recurring order is triggered and a new EasyPak container is shipped out automatically, saving the end user time.

The online resource also offers features that can help facilities better understand and track their recycling efforts. Once a user ships out its full EasyPak container, he or she can log in to the Web site to view recycling reports that provide totals of all recycled waste.  Container tracking is also available for users that have multiple facilities or use several EasyPak containers at one time.

Air Cycle says these reports are accessible at anytime and are a great resource for marketing environmental progress to customers and co-workers.

In addition, LampRecycling.com offers free resources to help businesses better understand recycling requirements and regulations, including state-by-state regulations, contact information for state Environmental Protection Agency officials, and information on new recycling solutions and tips.

Other environmental service companies are also developing new ways to help businesses recycle light bulbs. Waste Management announced in April that the new Earthmate CFLs are packaged in a resealable box that also doubles as a postage-paid shipping container to send spent CFLs to Waste Management’s lamp recycling center.

Facilities also need to be aware of recycling legislation passed state-by-state. The latest regulation is Maine’s legislation signed in June that requires CFL bulb manufacturers to share the costs and responsibility for recycling their mercury-containing bulbs. The bill goes into effect September 12. Massachusetts, Vermont and California are expected to follow Maine’s lead.

For businesses looking to switch to more environmentally-friendly light bulbs, several companies including Clear-Lite and Philips are developing eco-friendly offerings.

In August, Clear-Lite, based in Parkland, Fl. will introduce a new light bulb that prevents mercury contamination if the bulb is broken. The new ArmorLite line, looks like a standard incandescent light bulb, but it’s a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb housed inside an incandescent light bulb. The company says a silicon, unbreakable balloon-like skin is wrapped around the outer light bulb so if it breaks, the mercury will be contained.

All Clear-Lite bulbs use a mercury amalgam — the same metal that dentists use in teeth fillings — instead of mercury. While the bulb still contains some mercury, it’s a smaller amount and thus safer to use, says the company. The bulbs are lead-free and Energy Star qualified, and are said to reduce glare and lets users see or read more clearly.

Energy-efficient incandescent light bulbs are also starting to hit the market in response to government mandates for tougher efficiency standards.

Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting told the New York Times that there have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.

As an example, Philips Lighting’s Halogena Energy Savers are 30 percent more efficient than older incandescents, although they are more expensive, selling for $5 each and more, compared with as little as 25 cents for standard bulbs, reports New York Times.

Philips says that a 70-watt Halogena Energy Saver gives off the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt bulb and lasts about three times as long, reports the New York Times.

Still, the line is not as efficient as CFL bulbs, which can use 75 percent less energy than old-style bulbs, but the Energy Saver line is finding homes with consumers who don’t like the light from fluorescent bulbs, their slow start-up time and mercury content, according to the newspaper.

Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the New York Times that the 2007 federal energy bill that phases out inefficient incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012 is driving the “race to develop more efficient ones.”

Deposition Sciences’ technology, for example, is a key component of the new Philips bulb line, reports the New York Times. While the first commercial product achieves only a 30 percent efficiency gain, the company said in the article that it has achieved 50 percent in the laboratory.

Industry watchers expect more companies to develop specialized reflective coatings for incandescents including the big three lighting companies — General Electric, Osram Sylvania and Philips — as well as Auer Lighting of Germany, Toshiba of Japan and a host of lighting innovators, reports the New York Times.

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