Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Light Bulb Recycling

an energy efficient light bulbA little while ago Greenpeace had a campaign to try and stop Woollies selling incandescent light bulbs. Shortly afterwards the Feminist Lady reported on this story where “Britain is going to get rid of inefficient incandescent lightblubs, but very, very slowly, and only because big business has agreed it can.”

So, what happens to our old lightbulbs? Up pops Green Ladywell with the answer from here.

“Currently the majority of used light bulbs go to landfill sites, where glass and metal go to waste. More importantly energy saving light bulbs must be recycled as they contain sodium and mercury, which are hazardous materials. If dumped in household waste and allowed to enter our landfill sites the mercury in particular can seep into out drinking water and the habitat around it.
The mercury from a single fluorescent tube is enough to pollute 30,000 litres of water beyond the safe drinking level in the UK.”

She also reports that a London retail company Ryness will recycle any of your old light bulbs for free. Just bring your old light bulbs into any Ryness store and they will ensure that they are all correctly disposed of. If you shop with them online, Ryness will arrange a collection of your used light bulbs from your home.

Unfortunately their stores are mainly in central and west London. Are there any retail outlets here in Redbridge who might like to investigate providing this service? Perhaps when you next buy a lightbulb, you might ask?


  1. This whole business with 'low energy' lightbulbs is such a con.

    They take more energy to make than they save, they wear out more quickly than incandescents because the technology is not designed for frequent switching on and off.

    Oh yes, and they contain lots and lots of mercury - so we need to find safe ways of disposing of them - and of course, they are dimmer in the first place, and people will have to dump millions of useful lights because the new ones don't fit, and what about the lamps in white goods - when the light goes in my oven or cooker hood, will I have to buy new appliances? Some energy saving!

  2. Any increase in the energy used for manufacture is more than offset by the bulbs lasting on average 8 times longer. And that’s aside from the bulbs themselves using about 25% of the energy for a normal bulb. Mine do not seem to suffer from frequent switching on and off any more than the old type.

    Yes they contain Mercury – that’s why they need to be recycled.

    Dimmer? Eh? It depends on what wattage you use. What are you comparing? If you’re saying that a 10w new bulb is dimmer than a 200w incandescent then it will be. You have to look at the light equivalent on the package. It’s roughly 25%. I have replaced my 25w incandescents with 5w new ones and they are fine.

    The new range of helical curly whirly bulbs are brill. Really, Try one. They fit.

    Now, you have a point on white goods. I have today replaced one in the oven. However these are “specialist” bulbs and I think may still be allowed. There are also crystal chandeliers. Apart from looking naff the new bulbs do not give off the same type of light so you don’t get the twinkle. We have two of these. In the lounge it’s not a problem coz its very rarely on, we have wall lights. The dining room was a problem.

    I’m sitting there thinking, I could install wall lights but that means chasing out the walls and redecorating and raising the floorboards upstairs in my daughters bedroom – believe me you wouldn’t want to go in there. So instead I’ve put two concealed fittings on top of the glass cabinet and run them from a 13amp socket. Sorted.

  3. The Ecologist this month goes into more details about why low energy lightbulbs are a must - research for example shows taht in countries like the UK where coal-fired generation produces much of our electricity then the extra coal that would be burned to run an incandescent lightbulb instead of an energy saving one would put more mecury into the atmosphere than is contained in an energy-saving bulb.