Canadian fluorescent lamp recycling program (Take back the Light) surpasses 2M milestone ahead of schedule
By Alyssa Dalton
February 28, 2011
Canada’s first mercury-containing lamp stewardship program, Take back the Light, says it has exceeded its first milestone—the safe recycling of more than 2 million lamps—six months ahead of schedule. Designed for the ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) sector, the program was developed by the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), and launched in June 2008 with the original expectation that it would recover and recycle 1 million lamps by 2011.
“Two million lamps represents more than 60 kg (130 lbs) of mercury captured and diverted from disposal,” said Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of RCO.
According to RCO, Take Back the Light was developed as a response to the government’s decision to phase out incandescent lamps to mandate the use of more energy efficient lighting–a decision RCO believed could potentially result in more mercury-containing lamps in the garbage and in the environment. The fear is that since fluorescent lamps contain mercury, disposing them in landfills can result in mercury leaching into the soil, lakes and streams and possibly affecting aquatic flora, fish, wildlife and humans.
“We worked intensively for 2 years to introduce a market-based, environmentally safe program for recycling the component parts from fluorescent lamps and the results have substantiated our belief that responsible purchasing and end-of-life management is key to environmental protection,” said St. Godard.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment funded both the pilot study and the program development.
“The Take Back the Light program makes Ontario a leader in lamp recycling and keeps hazardous waste out of landfills,” said John Wilkinson, minister of environment. “The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is proud to have supported the development of this innovative program that encourages consumers, suppliers and manufacturers to work together to help reduce waste.”