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Overview of Global, US Mercury Uses & Reducing Mercury Lamp Pollution. Michael Bender, Director Mercury Policy Project/Zero Mercury Working Group www.mercurypolicy.org ~ www.zeromercury.org PSI Stakeholder Meeting ~ Salt Lake City, Utah April 23, 2008. Presentation Overview. Lamp Types

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Overview of Global, US Mercury Uses & Reducing Mercury Lamp Pollution

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Overview of Global, US Mercury Uses & Reducing Mercury Lamp Pollution

Michael Bender, Director

Mercury Policy Project/Zero Mercury Working Group

www.mercurypolicy.org ~ www.zeromercury.org

PSI Stakeholder Meeting ~ Salt Lake City, Utah

April 23, 2008

Presentation Overview

  • Lamp Types

  • Release Pathways

  • Global Mercury Use

  • China, US Mercury Use

  • Recycling in the US

  • Sustainable Lighting Policy Approach

  • Summary/Conclusions

Common Types of Mercury-Added Lighting


Linear Tubes

Compact Fluorescents

Exit Signs

High Intensity Discharge (HID)

High Pressure Sodium

Metal Halide

Mercury Vapor

Neon Lights

How Does Hg in Lamps Get Released?

  • Manufacturing

    • Especially if hand dosing/liquid mercury used

  • Transportation

    • Factory to retail to consumer to disposal

  • Installation/storage

    • Accidental breakage (see ME DEP,MPP studies*)

  • Disposal

    • In dumpsters, garbage cans, incinerators, landfills

  • Recycling

    • During crushing, mercury recovery, metal smelting



Revised Reference: Summary of supply, trade and demand information on mercury, UNEP, Nov 2006

Note: “Demand” may also be termed “gross consumption,” and is defined as total annual throughput of mercury for each of these sectors. It should be noted that in each of these sectors some recycling takes place, involving the recovery of mercury from products or wastes. Therefore, “net consumption” of mercury in some of these sectors (esp. VCM and chlor-alkali) may be significantly lower than “gross consumption.”

Lighting in Global Hg Demand Context

Small portion of global Hg demand now

Importance will grow over time as other sectors reduce their Hg demand

Because of anticipated large growth esp. in CFLs, it’s assumed ongoing reductions in Hg content and improvements in dosing methods will help offset the unit growth

Therefore, lamp Hg use projected to be approximately the same (as now) in 2015

United Nations Environment Program “Focused Reduction” Projections for 2015

Fluorescent Lamp Production in China

  • China largest producer

  • Uses 64 tons of mercury annually

  • 14 tons used in production of compact fluorescent lamps alone

China’s Hg Consumption in Lighting: 2003-2005

Annual Consumption of Hg in Lamps Estimated at 21 Tons in 2004

Total Annual Consumption = 276 tons

Fluorescent Lamp Use & Release in US

  • In 2004, 514 million lamps were generated in US

    -142 million were from residential use

    - 372 million came from businesses, government and institutions.  

  • More than 670 million fluorescent lamps were sold nationally in 2006

  • Consumption continues to grow each year

  • Discarded lamps result in tons of mercury emissions to the environment

Lamp Recycling in the US

  • 22% of all lamp usage is by users not regulated under federal rules (i.e., household or CESQG small businesses)

  • As a result, only 2% fluorescent lamps from residents recycled (Photo: IKEA collecting at retail)

  • Over 20% of fluorescent light bulbs from businesses, governments and institutions are currently recycled

Sustainable Lighting Policy Overview

  • Environmental Goals/Commitments

  • Energy efficiency

  • Waste prevention

  • Toxicity reduction

  • Recycling

  • Sustainable manufacturing

  • Vendor reporting and training

Lessons Learned on Hg Content of Lamps

Agematters: Modern lamps = lower mercury

Avoid older “preheat” fluorescents and T12s

Lamp life does not matter:

Often longest lasting lamps have least Hg

Shape matters: Avoid lamps with odd shapes

Circular fluorescents (T9s), U-bent fluorescents sometimes have more Hg

Size matters (but not always how you expect)

Avoid odd-sized lamps (e.g., 5- & 7-foot models as well as 6- & 18-inch models)

Brand matters: Shop around

Some companies put much more Hg in equivalent lamps

Strategies for Reducing Mercury from Lighting Equipment

  • Choose most energy-efficient models

    • Examples: Super T8s andT5s

    • Reduces power plant emissions, # of lamps needed

    • Restrict sales/purchases of inefficient lamps (T12s)

  • Specify long-life lamps (PLUS, XL, LL, XP)

  • Integrate recycling into lamp purchasing

  • Consider innovative technologies (e.g.,LEDs) that don’t contain Hg

Specify Low-Toxicity Lamps

  • Require bidders to disclose mercury and lead content of lamps

  • Set mercury caps (best in class)

    • Europe (RoHS), ENERGY STAR, Canada EcoLogo

    • CA, NYC, SF, Wal-Mart, Green Guide to Health Care

  • Avoid fixtures/ballasts for high-mercury lamps

  • Give preference for lead-free lamps

  • Make policy commitment to buying least-toxic lamps that meet needs

  • Require lamps to be made with safer dosing


  • Absent Hg content reductions and dosing improvements, Hg use will increase w/expanding use, and negate reductions anticipated in other sectors

  • The movement of production to the developing world heightens NGO concerns over Hg use in this sector

  • Coupled with poor recycling rates, Hg pollution will increase in US and globally


  • National stakeholder dialogue will (hopefully) raise awareness for collaboration and action needed to reduce lamp sector Hg both in US and globally


  • David Lennett


  • Alicia Culver

    Green Purchasing Institute

  • Peter Maxson

    Concorde East/West

  • State of Vermont

    (for requiring Hg symbol)

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