Nigel Harvey, chief executive of Recolight, the WEEE compliance scheme for lamps and operator of a nationwide lamp recycling service, explains how electrical contractors and wholesalers can recycle their waste lamps for free
Electrical and electronic waste covers everything from white and brown goods, monitors and computers through to lamps and luminaires. However, unlike the larger and bulkier items, waste lamps and luminaires can all too easily be inadvertently discarded with non-recyclables and end up going to landfill. End of life lamps are classed as hazardous waste due to the fact they contain mercury, and so from both an environmental and a legal perspective they must be recycled properly. Contractors and wholesalers therefore need to ensure that the appropriate recycling measures are in place.
What to recycle
The WEEE Regulations cover most lighting used in offices and outdoor lighting - including inbuilt light sources and light fittings. Incandescent lamps are not included. The end of life lamps which the WEEE Regulations cover must be recycled properly and in a sustainable manner because of the potential environmental implications if significant quantities were to end up in landfill. Whether small or large scale lamp replacement is taking place, proper processes must be implemented to ensure waste lamps are recycled. This is the responsibly of the electrical contractors and wholesalers.
The gas discharge lamps which need to be recycled include compact fluorescent lamps, fluorescent tubes, metal halide lamps, mercury and blended lamps, high pressure sodium lamps and low pressure sodium lamps. Looking to the future, LED lamps are set increase in importance as this technology becomes common in commercial settings. LEDs must also be recycled under the WEEE Regulations. Ensuring these lamps get recycled is where Recolight comes in.
Help is at hand
Recolight is a specialist recycling scheme for lamps that is funded by over 100 lamp producer members. It represents the overwhelming proportion of the lamps put on the UK market and, as a not for profit scheme dedicated to keeping lamps out of landfill, Recolight collects all lamps regardless of manufacturer. Recolight also actively re-invests in schemes to encourage lamp recycling amongst both businesses and consumers. It also has a dedicated open collection network across the country for waste lamps from businesses, making lamp recycling as simple as possible.
In addition, Recolight has recently introduced a range of collection options in order to help increase access to lamp recycling facilities. The new collection options will give contractors and wholesalers, with smaller quantities of waste lamps, easy and low cost access to collection/recycling facilities. This includes an option to lease a container for the length of a specific project. When the container is full, Recolight will collect it and recycle the contents free of charge. To provide a complete WEEE service, Recolight also collects and recycles general WEEE including TVs, computer monitors, printers, power and garden tools, small household appliances, medical devices and telecoms equipment.
What you need to know
The WEEE Regulations were put in place to ensure electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is recycled responsibly when it reaches end of life. The regulations oblige manufacturers to fund the collection and recycling of their products when they reach end of life, which they usually do by joining a producer compliance scheme. This scheme then manages the process on their behalf, and schemes such as Recolight provide these services free of charge to the end user.
The WEEE Regulations have recently been undergoing an amendment process and the new text, which has now been agreed by the European Council, Parliament and Commission, will enter UK law by January 2014. The changes that have been agreed will have an impact on UK businesses. The recast regulations contain much higher targets for WEEE collections - rising to 45% of EEE put on market by 2015, and then to 65% by 2019. Whilst achievement of these targets, particularly a 65% target, will be challenging, Recolight supports higher collection targets, given the hazardous nature of many lamps, and is working hard to create and support the necessary infrastructure to make lamp recycling easy for all.
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