Low energy light bulbs still 'value for money'

Posted: 15 August 2011

Commenting on reports in the UK that the cost of energy-saving light bulbs has risen as production of old-fashioned 60-watt light bulbs stops at the end of August, energy campaigners say they are still good value for money

Friends of the Earth’s Senior Waste Campaigner Michael Warhurst said: “Energy-saving light bulbs are great value for households – they last around 10 times longer than wasteful old-style bulbs and use three quarters less energy to produce the same amount of light.

CFL lightbulb
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can cut energy use by 75 per cent.

“With electricity costs soaring, energy-saving bulbs make more sense than ever – and they have dropped in price in the past few years.

“Manufacturers blame recent price rises on the growing cost of raw materials in China needed to make bulbs – the great news is that energy-saving bulbs are recyclable, so we can re-use valuable materials and help keep prices down.”

The old 60-watt bulbs are not recyclable and should not be put into the recyling bin with other glass. They have to go in with other non-reyclable rubbish and end up as landfill. 

Health fears

In recent years fears have been raised about the health and environmenal risks posed by low-energy light bulbs, because they contain a small quantity of mercury. The Department of the Environment suggested in 2008 that if a low energy light bulb is smashed the room should be vacated for at least 15 minutes and rubber gloves should be used to place the pieces in a sealed plastic bag before it is taken for recycling.

However, toxicologist Dr David Ray froim Nottingham University  has pointed out to the BBC that the amounts involved in the smashing of a single bulb are  small and unlikely to be harmful, though several bulbs smashed at once could pose some risk.

The lighting industry and the UK government say the risks of mercury pollution are minimal, while Greenpeace says the public should be reassured that using low-energy bulbs actually reduces the amount of mercury overall in the atmosphere.  (According to the Lighting Association  fluorescent strips like those used in garages and kitchens, containing mercury,  have been used for many years 'without poisoning anyone').

The UK Government says that environmentally-friendly bulbs will save at least 5m tonnes worth of carbon emissions each year.


 See more on recycling at http://www.recyclenow.com .