Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Disposal of CFLs

THE EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator
Alternatives (GAIA) have raised their voice for a robust policy on
extended producer responsibility (EPR) to be crafted and enforced to
curb the deleterious health and environmental impacts arising from the
disposal of spent compact fluorescent lamps in waste bins and dumps.

The Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), recently hosted an inception
meeting on the feasibility study of developing and establishing EPR
for mercury-containing lamp waste

Aside from DOE and DENR, the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), importers and
distributors of energy efficient lightings, hazardous waste treaters
and environmental NGOs took part in the meeting.

“True, we have switched from inefficient incandescent bulbs to
efficient lighting systems such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

But it comes with a price -- mercury is an integral component of CFLs.

And mercury, if not properly disposed of, poses health hazards to
humankind and the environment,” said DOE Undersecretary Loreta Ayson.

Data from the Philippine Efficient Lighting Market Transformation
Project (PELMATP) show that 88% of households and 77 % of commercial
establishments disposed their lamp waste as domestic waste.

“We want to solicit your help in crafting a policy on EPR for
mercury-containing lamp waste,” the DOE official said.

EPR is a system in which producers take responsibility, physical
and/or financial, for the environmental and social impacts of their
products throughout their life cycle.

“Specifically, this will mean that producers of fluorescent lamps will
be in charge of the collection, processing and reclamation of their
products when they are no longer useful or discarded,” said Thony
Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

“At present, there is no safe system for managing end-of-life lamps,
which are often thrown into regular bins and sent to disposal sites
where these are dumped, burned or recycled in unsafe conditions,” he

The EcoWaste Coalition had previously complained to former Energy
Secretary Angelo Reyes and former Environment Secretary Joselito
Atienza about the problematic disposal of burnt-out lamps that exposes
informal recyclers in dumpsites and junk shops to mercury, a highly
toxic substance.

The envisioned EPR, according to GAIA, should impose lower levels of
mercury in CFLs imported into the country, uphold consumer right to
full product and safety information, internalize the environmental
costs, and operate an environmentally-sound system for managing spent
lamps, including a collection scheme that is easy for the public to

This effort should lead to greater industry commitment to invest in
product research and development to mainstream energy efficient and
climate-friendly lights that are mercury-free.

Under the country’s laws, namely Republic Act 6969 and Republic Act
9003, lamp waste is considered hazardous and should not be mixed with
recyclable and compostable discards. These laws further require the
proper management and disposal of lamp waste through appropriate
hazardous waste treatment facilities.


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