What to do with street lights?
Now the clocks have gone forward again I am enjoying the lighter evenings and the novel prospect of getting home before it gets dark. Thinking about the increasing hours of daylight made me think about how reliant we are on artificial light. In particular the millions of street lights in Britain which keep our pavements safe at night, light our famous landmarks, and keep our motorways moving. All 7.5 million of them to be precise!
Street lights usually make use of either mercury or sodium, or a combination of both, to produce light and because of this they are classed as hazardous waste at end of life. The millions of sodium and mercury based lights currently in use must be recycled once they reach end-of-life. The UK’s street lighting uses a variety of technologies, including most recently, LED light sources.
After they have been recycled, the recovered materials can be reused in a variety of ways; the glass can be mixed with a new glass melt to make everything from furnace linings to loft insulation, and even new light bulbs.
Street lighting is a vital part of our lighting industry, and organisations with a responsibility for street lighting need to make sure they take recycling seriously as well.