(December 16, 2013)
A modern day Edison has a bright idea: a way to keep the incandescent bulb burning brightly, despite a government law set to go into effect New Year’s Day that effectively outlaws the most commonly used lightbulbs.
Most bulbs, that is. Not those made by lightbulb savior Larry Birnbaum. “When the government decided to ban incandescent lightbulbs, they left a loophole in the law. An opening,” Birnbaum told FoxNews.com. “What that was was rough service.”
So ... it appears that there IS an alternative to using Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL), although the referenced article doesn't appear to include any information about availability or price.
In the meantime, we're hearing a lot of warnings about Mercury contamination if one of these wonderful new inventions should happen to break. We're cautioned about clean-up and disposal of a broken ... or even intact ... bulb.
Intact bulbs can be a headache to dispose of, too. In many locales it is illegal to throw fluorescents out with regular garbage, but the closest recycling or take-back facility may be miles away. (And, given the number of bottles and cans that end up in landfills despite the prevalence of curbside recycling programs, it seems likely that any barrier to recycling will make for relatively low reclamation rates; in 2004 the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers estimated a residential mercury bulb recycling rate of 2 percent.) Many municipal waste facilities and some vendors accept fluorescents; the EPA and Earth 911 maintainAnd ... the CFLs can also cause physical problems, including skin cancer and migraines. (That has less to do with broken or disposed CFLs than with their normal mode of operation ... but that's another story.)
online directoriesof collection sites. Among major retailers of fluorescents, IKEA offers to take back compact fluorescent bulbs in its stores free of charge.
One wonders, what do we do with a CFL bulb which is not broken, but merely doesn't work any more? Throw it in the bin with the rest of the trash?
I looked at my local garbage guy website, and they don't seem to address that question specifically.
However, they do have a category which includes Mercury contamination:
- all hazardous waste batteries;
- mercury-containing equipment;
- some hazardous waste pesticides;
- mercury-containing light bulbs.
- small-quantity handler of universal waste (SQHUW),
- large-quantity handler of universal waste (LQHUW),
- transporter of universal waste, or
- final destination facilities.
If I understand this correctly, my trash collectors are not imposing any special restrictions on how I dispose of these "mercury-containing light bulbs". They bear the responsibility and burdon of separating them from normal non-hazardous materials, and disposing of them appropriately.
That comes as a great relief to me. "It's Not My Job!"
Also: "Some Other Guys Will Handle That!")
Wait a minute, all this stuff goes to a landfill located five miles out of town. That's uphill from The River ... which runs through major population centers in this state. We're talking about the State Capital and the largest city in the state.
Won't somebody else be subject to the mercury poisoning?
And gee, what happens if the people up-river are just dumping their "mercury-containing light bulbs" in the trash, and they're being dumped in THEIR landfills? What's to keep their Mercury from ending up in MY water supply? Those people are in the 2nd and 3rd largest cities in the state!
Isn't it odd that the Federal Government, which has mandated this national ban on Incandescents, haven't simultaneously initiated a plan for EVERYONE to know how to dispose of Fluorescents? And regulations which required trash disposal companies to provide separate containers for these "household hazardous" materials?
Oh, wait: The law was enacted in 2007:
Jan. 1. marks the end of a seven-year effort to outlaw the ordinary lightbulb, thanks to a 2007 law that raised minimum efficiency standards for traditional incandescent bulbs far beyond what the technology can manage.(emphasis added)
It’s lights out for the traditional light bulb, in other words, which was essentially killed by that bill.
“The government started phasing out incandescents in 2010, starting with the 100-watt bulb, and then followed by the 75-watt,” explained Melissa Andresko, communications director for lighting-automation company Lutron.
That's a relief. Now I know the Federal Government's appropriate response to this quandary: