GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Thu Jun 19 1997 - 05:05:00 EDT

Date: Thu, 19 Jun 97 10:05 WET DST
Subject: Re: Fluorescent lamp recycling (Kristin Tensuan)

June 19, 1997

Dear Kristin Tensuan,

Firstly you have to be aware that there has been tremendous political wrangling, charges of scientific fraud and mis-statements made concerning the hazards of mercury from fluorescents, the ease with which the stuff can be recycled. In 1994 fluorescents were included in the Universal Waste Rule by US EPA making it easier to recycle them, and since then, recycling capabilities have come online in various quarters. I have not seen what I would call reliable guages of recycling rates during this period, even though some strict new laws requiring recycling were passed in some places (e.g. Minnesota) and even though some industry groups have called for and effected source reduction of the content of mercury in fluorescents. All that I have are the following statistics from 1994 which don t differ significantly from what you already have:

 In a study report prepared for EPA Office of Solid Waste by Research Triangle Institute (RTI) entitled Management of Used Fluorescent Lamps: Preliminary Risk Assessment, it is estimated that approximately 600 million lamps are disposed each year. Currently, the largest fraction of lamps are disposed in the waste stream; 82% of lamps are landfilled, 16 percent are incinerated, and only 2 percent are recycled. The report quoted actually came out in 6/92. The US EPA s Green Lights program might have some better estimates, since part of their task is to minimize the toxicity and energy inefficiency of lighting among participating companies, with participating manufacturers, etc. You can access the Green Lights Hotline at telephone: 202-775-6650.

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