Veolia Environmental Services North America, one of the largest waste services companies in the world, announced that its Port Washington, WI, facility achieved approved processor status for the Take Back the Light program, allowing the facility to recycle fluorescent and other mercury bearing lamps that are subject to the program’s strict operational and environmental requirements.
Ten states and multiple local jurisdictions prohibit the disposal of mercury containing products, including CFLs and other mercury containing lamps, in solid waste, according to LampRecycle.org. By recycling a mercury containing lamp, 99.98% of the mercury used in the lamp is recovered.
The Take Back the Light program, launched by the Recycling Council of Ontario in June 2008 with the financial support of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, helps organizations recycle their lamps by simplifying the process and using sheer bulk buying power to get the best possible price for lamp recycling, according to the Recycling Council of Ontario. Take Back the Light is Canada’s first comprehensive fluorescent lamp recycling program. The program’s goal is to responsibly recycle fluorescent lamps that would otherwise be landfilled, and to track and verify these activities. It facilitates proper collection and management of lamps to recover potentially hazardous mercury and other lamp materials. While the recovery of mercury is the primary objective of the program, glass, metals, and phosphor are also reclaimed and recycled.
The Recycling Council of Ontario says that approximately 30 million fluorescent lamps are disposed of annually; in 2008, approximately 7% of fluorescent lamps were collected for recycling, representing about 312 kilograms of mercury. Earlier this spring, Take Back the Light announced that it has exceeded its goal of recycling 5 million lamps.
Take Back the Light urges public institutions like schools, municipalities and hospitals to include lighting in their conservation plans, as it can present an efficient way to reduce energy costs. This is particularly important as these institutions are required to prepare annual energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission summaries as well as energy conservation and demand management plans by July 2014, under Ontario Regulation 397/11, of the Green Energy Act.
In commercial buildings, lighting typically accounts for 25-30 percent of energy use, LampRecycle points out. New lighting products, including more efficient fluorescent lamps such as “T8” models, can reduce energy costs by as much as 50%.