Recolight makes light work of recycling lamps

Recolight, lamp recycling, maintenance, refurbishment
Many organisations are failing to dispose of all of their waste lamps that should be disposed of, and others are disposing of lamps that are not covered by the WEEE Regulations.

The disposal of many types of waste lamps is covered by EU regulations. Nigel Harvey of Recolight, outlines the importance of recycling waste lamps and the free of charge options available to businesses.

The drive for energy efficiency in the built environment has been impressive in the UK, resulting in an increase in the use of low-energy lighting and a material reduction in the carbon footprint of buildings both new and old.

With a larger number of low-energy lamps in use, such as gas discharge lamps (GDLs, which include fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, and high intensity discharge lamps), LEDs and OLEDs, there is even greater need for increased awareness of and participation in their correct disposal. These lamps fall under the remit of the WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) Regulations that came into force in the UK in July 2007 with the intention of ensuring that WEEE is kept out of landfill.

Under the regulations, the producers of electrical equipment have a responsibility to finance the recycling of their products when they reach end of life, which they do by joining a compliance scheme like Recolight, which manages this process on their behalf. This means that the cost for collecting and recycling gas discharge lamps is covered by the producer. As a result, Recolight offers holders of waste lamps a free collection and recycling service.

Carrying out a lighting retrofit or refurbishing the lighting in your building can lead to significant savings on your energy bill. According to the Carbon Trust, 25% of an organisation’s electricity costs come from lighting, rising to 40% for some companies. Coupled with the fact that, according to industry experts, a retailer replacing a single 35 W halogen downlighter with a 6 W LED, can save around £10 per year, depending on usage, there are significant savings to be made. However, it is important to not overlook the disposal of waste lamps which fall within the scope of the WEEE regulations.

Gas discharge lamps are all within the scope of the WEEE Regulations and therefore have to be recycled when they reach end of life. In the UK, the Environment Agency has also classified LEDs and OLEDs as in scope of the regulations.

We have conducted research amongst facilities managers which showed that there was still some work to be done to boost recycling rates amongst businesses. For example, 57% of facilities managers believed incorrectly that incandescent lamps were within the scope of the WEEE regulations, and 22% were found to be recycling half or less of their waste lamps.

Recolight has a number of free-of-charge options available to help businesses dispose of their waste lamps easily. They can join Recolight’s network of collection points if they collect sufficient waste lamps or drop them off at one of 350 collection points.

Looking forward, the European-wide WEEE Directive, on which the UK regulations are based, has recently been recast, and the changes are scheduled to enter into UK law by early 2014. The recast will also lead to higher collection targets from 2016, making it more important than ever for the recycling of small WEEE, such as lamps, to be as simple as possible for businesses and consumers alike.

Nigel Harvey is chief executive of Recolight.

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