Mercury Creating Recycling Problems in Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

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Although most of us have begun replacing all of our old incandescent light bulbs for the new, energy-efficient spiral bulbs, there has never been much discussion about the issues with recycling the new bulbs. For instance, you may not have heard that the European Union, and some states in the U.S., have made it illegal to throw the bulbs away in with regular trash. The mercury content in the bulbs is high enough that the manufacturers want consumers to instead mail the used bulbs back after they are done using them to keep the toxic materials they contain out of our landfills. Since it is incredibly unlikely that anyone will bother with this, CFL manufacturers Osram and General Electric are researching ways to reduce the mercury content of their bulbs – FYI – current bulbs currently contain about 3 milligrams of mercury, and they are aiming to reduce it to 1 milligram. Despite many CFL manufacturers saying that the 2 tons of mercury used per year in light bulbs is better than 50 tons of carbon formerly used to power incandescent bulbs, the issue is still one that may have more dire effects, and could eventually contaminate our soil and water. So even though you may be saving energy in the short-run, we should still be holding out for mercury free, efficient, incandescent bulbs that we should have available from Osram or GE in a few years. 

  • Ian Andrew

    As the Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greener Ideal, Ian has been a driving force in environmental journalism and sustainable lifestyle advocacy since 2008. With over a decade of dedicated involvement in environmental matters, Ian has established himself as a respected expert in the field. Under his leadership, Greener Ideal has consistently delivered independent news and insightful content that empowers readers to engage with and understand pressing environmental issues.

    Ian’s expertise extends beyond editorial leadership; his hands-on experience in exploring and implementing sustainable practices equips him with practical knowledge that resonates with both industry professionals and eco-conscious audiences. This blend of direct involvement and editorial oversight has positioned Ian as a credible and authoritative voice in environmental journalism and sustainable living.

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