Sunday, September 5, 2010

DOE eyes system for proper disposal of light bulbs with mercury

The Department of Energy is planning to issue
rules and regulations as well as a system to ensure the proper
disposal of compact fluorescent lamps that contain the hazardous
chemical mercury.

“True, we have switched from inefficient incandescent bulbs to
efficient lighting systems such 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 Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson.

The extended producer responsibility (EPR), also known as “producer
take back,” 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,” added Thony
Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition, in a statement.

“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,”
Dizon explained.

Information from the Philippine Efficient Lighting Market
Transformation Project (PELMATP) has shown that 88 percent of
households and 77 percent of commercial establishments dispose of
their old lamps just like they do with ordinary domestic waste.

The DoE has commissioned the International Institute for Energy
Conservation and Innogy Solutions Inc. to conduct the feasibility and
policy studies on EPR for mercury-containing lamp waste.

This government-led initiative has earned the support of waste and
pollution non-government organizations, namely EcoWaste Coalition and
the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

Aside from the DoE, the Departments of Environment and Natural
Resources, Science and Technology, and of Trade and Industry, as well
as importers and distributors of energy-efficient lightings, hazardous
waste treaters and environmental NGOs took part in a meeting over the
feasibility of developing the EPR.

“We envisioned a robust EPR that will 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
access,” added Manny Calonzo, co-coordinator of GAIA.

Under the laws (Republic Acts 6969 and 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


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