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Ontario Puts the Smack-Down on Fluorescents

Every year, 30 million mercury-filled lamps head to the dumps in Ontario – that’s enough mercury to contaminate Lake Erie to the point where fish are unsafe for consumption. But a new pilot program, the first of its kind in North America, is aiming to keep mercury out of the water and landfill systems with the first comprehensive fluorescent lamp recycling program.

By 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be banned and consumers will have to figure out a way to compact their fluorescents. Take Back the Light, funded in part by the provincial government, recycles out the mercury by moving the lamps on a conveyor to a negative pressure containment area. The lamps are then broken down to capture glass, aluminum, brass, and phosphor-mercury powder. The powder is then heated to separate the mercury from the phosphor and a triple distillation process cleans up the mercury making it eligible for reuse. A Pennsylvania company will collect the mercury that has been allowed to cool to liquid form in one ton containers where it will again undergo another distillation and then be resold.

Next, Ontario hopes to begin compacting fluorescents as part of its next phase of its hazardous waste recycling program. But that’s at least a year away. By 2012, the province plans to contribute 1 million lights a year from its 3,500 provincial buildings. By that year, the recycling program hopes to be recycling 10 million fluorescents.

Ontario isn't the only one doing its part to clean up the mess of these lights. According to the New York Times, Home Depot will take back old compact fluorescents in all 1,973 of its stores, becoming the U.S.'s most widespread recycling program for the bulbs.

Via Ontario Recycling Council of Ontario and The Star

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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Clinch, June 27, 2008
I'm hoping that by 2012, LEDs will be more affordable, and inefficient, mercury-filled lamps will be banned.
Let's ban fluorescent lights now!
written by Alun Jones, June 27, 2008
As a migraine sufferer, I hate fluorescent lights already. With the additional burden fluorescent lights put on the viagra prescriptions environment, I'm eager to see LEDs and OLEDs become widely available at a good price. They consume less power than fluorescents, too.
written by James, June 28, 2008
Agree with Clinch and Alun. Next ban will be mercury fluorescent. Leds are better. What I want to know is the cost, ie carbon footprint, of recycling the fluorescents. Could be a nasty surprise. Add that to the the power used, and what is really saved??? Anybody know the numbers?

Remember, the cost includes transportation to the recycling plant, transportation and re-use or "disposal" of the glass, metal ends, transformers, etc,etc.

Total recycling figures need to be added to the cost of everything. Worry about fuel cells and electric cars too. Companies still tend to talk only about front end costs. "We can build product-X for $YYY." "Recycling? Ermm...."
written by Clinch, June 28, 2008
I've tried looking on the internet before for all the figures on CFL bulb manufacture and disposal, but there seems to be a lack of any such information.
The only information I could find, was that CFLs produce at least 5 times more pollution in production compared to incandescent bulbs (though it never stated what these levels were).

So it's not only post-use pollution we need to consider as well, but also pre-use (i.e. production), because you can only really consider how good/bad something is for the environment if you consider its entire lifetime.
written by Virgil, June 30, 2008
BTW, what's that about "collecting the mercury that has been allowed to cool to liquid form"? Mercury is already a liquid isn't it?

My biggest bugbear with CFLs, is that they don't make nearly enough of them with candelabra-screw fittings, and when they do, they're twice the price!

Case in point: a 4 pack of 60W regular-screw-fit bulbs runs about $10. The same $10 will get you only 2 of the exact same bulbs with a small candelabra screw. It'll cost you $13 if you want thin-style bulbs that actually fit into most chandeliers.

Add in the price of cialis new federal regulations which say that all hanging light fixtures (i.e. ones that hang on link for you viagra discussionsdiscount priced viagra a wire from the ceiling with a shade) MUST use candelabra size screw-fit, and cannot by law be sold with a regular size screw-fit, and you get the impression someone is making mucho $$$ here!

My personal solution is female viagra next day delivery to just cut the wire and spring for an extra $1 for the regular size screw fitting, which then allows you to very good site buy low price levitra use the cheaper large screw-fit bulbs. Still though, it can't be that much more expensive to actually make the bulbs with the smaller screw-fit. Why are they so expensive? They're not exactly a specialty item.

written by Clinch, July 01, 2008
Mercury is liquid at room temperature and pressure, but at high temperatures (or low pressures) it becomes a gas, and needs to be cooled to return to liquid form.
Or it could be a gas because of dispersion (in the same way that water can be in the air [i.e. it's humid] but the air is well below the boiling point of water).

As for the price increase for smaller bulbs, it's because for CFLs to be smaller(/have smaller fittings) they have to be more compact, and cramming the buy viagra in europe same kind of power in to a smaller space is harder to do (and therefore more expensive).

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