FIND YOUR NEAREST RECYCLING POINT

You can recycle your low energy light bulbs at locations across the UK, find the one closest to you

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ALL ABOUT BULBS AND RECYCLING

Low energy light bulbs use up to 80% less energy than old fashioned bulbs, but to do this, they need a small amount of mercury which is why they can’t be thrown away in your bin.

The typical amount of mercury in a florescent lamp is between 1.2 to 4mg, and in a domestic compact florescent lamp (CFL) this equates to the tip of a ballpoint pen.

The mercury in one CFL is not enough to pose a health risk but they do need to be disposed of responsibly to reduce the risk of large quantities of mercury ending up in landfill. In Europe the collection and recycling of GDLs is compulsory under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive

If we all recycle we can protect our environment, and the mercury, glass and metal can be reused.

Until recently, if you wanted to recycle your old low-energy light bulbs the only option was to take them to your local council waste recycling centre. There are about 1,100 of these around the country where you can take your old light bulbs along with other items of WEEE.

 

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You will find the Recolight Bulbstore Maxi outdoors at your
local council bring site and recycling areas of retail car parks.

 

 

 

 

At Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) head to
the Electronic Waste area where you will find containers
labelled for recycling your low energy light bulbs.


YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

 

Risks of a broken bulb

Scientists at the Health Protection Agency have reviewed the potential health effects of mercury exposure from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs. They found the exposure is likely to be very small – and much lower than from other broken mercury-containing products such as some types of thermometer and barometers.

Professor Virginia Murray, Consultant Medical Toxicologist, said: “Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain a tiny amount of mercury – roughly enough to cover the tip of a ball point pen.  A small proportion of this could be released into a room if the bulb is broken, but this does not pose a health risk to anyone immediately exposed.

“As a precautionary measure, the Health Protection Agency advise that the room should be ventilated and the bulb cleaned up and disposed of properly.”

 

Cleaning up a broken bulb

The amount of mercury in a low energy bulb is between 1.2 to 4 milligrams even though the amount is very small, you should still follow the following guidelines given, by the Health Protection agency, to safely remove the broken bulb.

Preparation

Vacate the room and keep children and pets out of the affected area. Shut off central air conditioning system, if you have one.

Ventilate the room by opening the windows for at least 15 minutes before clean up.

Do not use a vacuum cleaner, but clean up using rubber gloves and aim to avoid creating and inhaling airborne dust as much as possible.

Cleaning up

On hard surfaces sweep up all particles and glass fragments with stiff cardboard and place everything, including the cardboard, in a plastic bag. Wipe the area with a damp cloth and then add that to the bag. Household cleaning products should be avoided during clean up despite the very small amount of mercury involved.
On soft furnishings and carpets, do not use a damp cloth, just sticky tape to pick up small residual CFL pieces or powder from soft furnishings and then add that to the bag.

Disposing of the bulb
The plastic bag should be reasonably sturdy and needs to be sealed, but it does not need to be air tight. The sealed plastic bag should be double-bagged to minimise cuts from broken glass.

The bag with all broken pieces and cleaning items should then be taken to your local council recycling centre, where you will find a special section for WEEE.

 

The recycling process

The energy-saving light bulbs are collected and taken to our specialist recycling facilities, where the materials are separated and recovered.

 

We can recover up to 95% of the materials:

  • Phosphor powders, particularly the triphosphor type can be used to make new lamps.
  • Mercury, when purified to the right level, may also be used to make new lamps or it may be used in other industrial processes.
  • The crushed glass may also be returned to be mixed with a new glass melt for a variety of applications, from furnace linings to making new lamps.

 

The WEEE regulations

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations (S.I. 2006:3289) and the WEEE (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 3454) stem from an EU Directive of the same name. They came into full legal effect in the UK in July 2007 and have now been rolled out across all EU countries.

  • The WEEE Regulations ensure electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is recycled in a sustainable way when it reaches end of life.
  • They are in place to reduce the impact electrical waste has on the environment by encouraging its reuse or recycling. It obliges manufacturers to fund the collection and recycling of their products when they reach end of life.
  • The regulations require all producers to join a compliance scheme which manages the process on their behalf, and schemes such as Recolight – which works on behalf of the lighting industry.
  • Under the Regulations the producer funds the collection, recycling and any environmentally friendly disposal. But it is the end user that has ultimate responsibility for making sure the product is recycled when it reaches end of life.

 

WEEE explained

WEEE is Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and covers a wide range of equipment which all contain important materials that can be recycled.

All WEEE goods have the crossed wheelie bin symbol on them, a reminder that they must be disposed of in a sustainable way and not go to landfill.

 

The WEEE man

Lighting equipment covered by the WEEE regulations

  • Compact Fluorescent Lamps  – CFLs, more commonly known as low-energy or energy-saving light bulbs
  • Fluorescent tubes
  • Metal halide lamps
  • Mercury and blended lamps
  • Sodium lamps, both high and low-pressure
  • LEDs and organic LEDs (OLEDs)

The regulations cover most of the light bulbs used today both in offices, homes and outdoor applications, only filament lamps are excluded.

Electronic and electrical equipment covered by the WEEE regulations

These fall into 13 categories, the list includes examples of goods in each category, you can find a full list on the Environment Agency website.

  1. Large household appliances – white goods but not cooling equipment
  2. Small household appliances – irons, kettles, hairdryers, sewing machines, toasters, clocks
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment – computers and their accessories, calculators and phones, not monitors
  4. Consumer equipment – radios, hi-fi equipment, electronic musical instruments etc. But not televisions
  5. Lighting equipment –  luminaires
  6. Electrical and electronic tools – drills, welding equipment and lawnmowers
  7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment – electric train sets, video games and slot machines
  8. Medical devices – dialysis machines, ventilators and radiotherapy equipment
  9. Monitoring and control instruments – smoke detectors, thermostats and other instruments used in industrial installations
  10. Automatic dispensers – drinks, food and money dispensers
  11. Display equipment – TVs and monitors
  12. Cooling equipment  –  refrigeration equipment and air conditioning units
  13. Gas discharge & LED lamps – straight fluorescent tubes, circular fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, high intensity discharge lamps and LEDs

 

Who are Recolight?

Recolight were set up in 2005 ready for the introduction of the UK WEEE regulations in 2007. We are funded by our members, the lighting industry and operate as a not for profit organisation, taking on our members’ responsibilities to collect and recycle their lamps at end-of-life. A business that sells lamps in any European member state must join a WEEE compliance scheme, like Recolight.

  • We provide free lamp recycling to Recolight Members and their customers.
  • Recolight are unique in the UK for offering a free lamp recycling service.
  • Recolight provides a range of free services for businesses to make lamp recycling as simple and efficient as possible.

Recolight is unique in the WEEE industry, in undertaking recycling far in excess of its legal obligations.  This reflects the organisations, and its members’ genuine commitment to maximising the recycling of WEEE lighting.

GENERAL FAQS

Who are Recolight?

Recolight is a producer compliance scheme specialising in the recycling of all WEEE lighting in accordance with the WEEE Regulations.

Recolight was established in 2005 by the UK lamp producers who account for a significant share of the UK market.

Its members are producers and importers of EEE who put new lamps on the market for the first time in the UK, and are therefore obliged to comply with the WEEE Regulations.

Recolight offers specialist recycling services for all WEEE lighting, advice and support to help all parties in the supply chain recycle their lamps as simply and efficiently as possible Recolight is unique in the WEEE lamp industry, in undertaking recycling in excess of its legal obligations. This reflects the organisations, and its members’ genuine commitment to maximising the recycling of lamps.

As a not for profit organisation, all funds are used to promote and maximise recycling, and not used to pay dividends to stake holders.

Scheme approval number issued by the Environment Agency is WEE/MP3838PR/SCH.

What are the WEEE Regulations?

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations (S.I. 2006:3289) and the WEEE (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 3454) stem from an EU Directive of the same name and that Directive has now been rolled out across all EU countries. It came into full legal effect in the UK in July 2007

The WEEE Regulations ensure electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is recycled in a sustainable way when it reaches end of life. The legislation is in place to reduce the impact electrical waste has on the environment by encouraging its reuse or recycling, and obliges manufacturers to fund the collection and recycling of their products when they reach end of life.

The regulations require all producers to join a compliance scheme which manages the process on their behalf, and schemes such as Recolight – which works on behalf of the lighting industry – provide these services free of charge to the end user. Under the Regulations the producer funds the collection, recycling and any environmentally friendly disposal. But it is the end user that has ultimate responsibility for making sure the product is recycled when it reaches end of life.

Who do the WEEE Regulations affect?

The WEEE Regulations affect everybody in one way or another but the primary groups affected are:

  • Producers, who become responsible for financing the end-of-life treatment of their products
  • Distributors, who become responsible in some cases for taking-back end-of-life products when new products are purchased and for providing information to users about the need for recycling and facilities for the disposal of end-of-life products.

A producer is the party which first puts Electrical or Electronic Equipment (EEE) onto the UK market, whether they are manufacturers of EEE, private brand distributors or importers. The primary responsibility is to finance the environmentally sound disposal of their products at end-of-life.
A producer is any person who:

  • Manufactures and sells electrical and electronic equipment under their own brand
  • Resells, under their own brand, equipment produced by another supplier
  • Imports electrical and electronic equipment on a professional basis into an EU Member State

Producers of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) as listed in Schedule 2 of the UK WEEE Regulations are responsible for financing and ensuring the disposal of end-of-life products in an environmentally sound way arising from both household and non-household users. There are some exemptions and limits to this that can be found in the detail in the Regulations. For Example: non-Household WEEE where there is no like-for-like replacement.
Producers must join a Compliance scheme (or provide their own Environment Agency approved scheme) which will meet this responsibility by managing and paying for the recycling and recovery of their share of this WEEE and report on what they have done to the appropriate Government authority. Full details may be found in the BIS Guidelines.

Which lamps are covered by the WEEE Regulations?

Category 13 products in scope of WEEE

regulations

Gas discharge lamps:

  • Straight fluorescent tubes
  • Circular fluorescent tubes
  • Compact fluorescent lamps
  • High Intensity Discharge lamps
    • High pressure sodium HPS or SON
    • Low pressure sodium SOX lamps (street lighting)
    • Metal halide
    • Ceramic metal halide
    • Mercury
    • Xenon
    • Induction

Most of these lamp types are used in both household and non-household applications. All gas discharge lamps  are identified under the Hazardous Waste Regulations as hazardous waste.

Collection of waste xenon lamps

Collection of waste sodium lamps

LEDs

  • LED retrofit lamps
  • OLED retrofit lamps
  • User replaceable LED modules – Zhaga modules

Category 5 products in scope of WEEE regulations

  • Traditional luminaires
  • LED luminaires
  • LED street lighting

A Luminaire is a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps and also the parts which help to position, protect or connect the lamps.

Our Luminaire collection and recycling service is provided for our members obligated waste.

Not in scope of the WEEE regulations

  • GLS
  • Halogen lamps
  • Household luminaires

are not in scope of the WEEE regulations, and not collected by Recolight.

Who is responsible for enforcing the WEEE Regulations?

The Environment Agency for England and Wales,

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

and Northern Ireland Environment Agency

are responsible for ensuring that all eligible producers and suppliers register with a compliance scheme.

The compliance scheme is then responsible for the producers’ obligations and for getting data from its members on EEE put onto the market and for reporting on WEEE collected and recycled.

In order for us to demonstrate to the enforcement agencies that our data is correct we audit all our members. This is on a random basis and no more onerous than necessary to achieve the objective.

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