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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. More...

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