Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Lamps
4. What would be the benefits of increased separate collection of compact fluorescent lamps?
The current use and disposal of compact
fluorescent lamps is unlikely to pose any environmental risks. However,
because of their mercury content they should
increasingly be recycled.
It was estimated that, in 2007, households only recycled 20% of burned-out
compact fluorescent lamps, while the
remainder was discarded inappropriately with unsorted waste. Improving the
recycling rate so that more CFLs are collected separately and the
mercury they contain is removed
thoroughly, would reduce mercury emissions.
In 2007, 353 million CFLs were sold in the EU-27 with an assumed
mercury content of 4.5 mg per bulb. By
the time they reach the end of their useful life (6000 hours) their electricity
use will have led to 462 kg of mercury emissions (from coal fired power plants).
In addition, if only 20% of them are recycled, an estimated 1130 kg of mercury
would eventually be released by inappropriate disposal. The latter could in part
be prevented by improving recycling rates.