Lighting Fair NYC this year was home to amazing light technology from energy efficiency featuring LED technology to the reduction of mercury content in the fluorescent bulbs. As an environmentalist I was impressed by the advancement of technology in lighting energy efficiency but was scared at the same time that we as consumers may be short sighted in our quest for energy efficiency by ignoring the proper disposal of these bulbs.
The LED technology impressed me with its long life and lack of mercury content. In addition, Phillips and SLI lighting both featured low mercury content in their fluorescent bulbs. SLI lighting featured the most impressive environmental concern with all of their fluorescent bulbs containing low level of mercury and their bulb glass was free of lead.
During my discussion with Flemming Jensen, Vice President of Industrial/Commercial Sales at SLI lighting about why the company was producing low mercury fluorescent bulbs and lead free glass, he made me aware of our current disposal practices of fluorescent lighting. The world is pushing for more efficient lighting but has not looked at the disposal of the compact fluorescent. Giants like Wal-Mart and Home Depot are offering lower priced fluorescent bulbs to encourage consumers to save energy. It seems that no one has asked the question what about the disposal of these products after they no longer work.
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Although the world is taking notice that we need to stop global warming, there should be a simultaneous effort being made to require easily accessible places to dispose of the fluorescent lighting. The giants like Wal-Mart, could easily exchange burnt out fluorescent bulbs for new ones with a discount offered to encourage people to recycle.
Cities and counties could have more accessible place for people to drop off their bulbs like they drop off their newspapers and plastics. The only way for more easily accessible recycling to be achieved is for the consumers to demand it. In addition, we can demand that bulbs are made of low levels of mercury and lead free glass. We have the power in this world because we speak in the language of money. We have asked for more energy efficient technology; let’s now demand for our landfills to remain lead and mercury free.