Light Bulb Recycling Illuminates Business Plans; SWANA Joins Effort

TO DECREASE MERCURY contamination in landfills, two organizations recently have created recycling programs to change a light bulb's final disposal destination.

Waste Management and Recycling Products Inc. (WMRP), Schenectady, N.Y., is launching a bulb-recycling program aimed at large waste generators. Founded in 1999, WMRP specializes in electronic recycling (e-cycling) and owns a facility that demanufactures computers. Colleges, hospitals and large corporations constitute the company's client base.

Peter Bennison, WMRP's senior vice president of business development, says many of the company's existing clients have been asking for a fluorescent bulb-recycling option to supplement other e-cycling services, so WMRP decided to add the service.

“We figured if we're already picking up a pallet of computers, it's easy for us to pick up a couple of boxes of bulbs, too,” Bennison says.

WMRP primarily collects mercury-rich fluorescent bulbs, ballasts and high-density discharge (HID) lamps. Once the bulbs are collected, WMRP transports them to a recycling facility in Allentown, Pa., that is equipped to recover mercury, glass, powders and gases from the bulbs.

Additionally, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md., is involved in its own lamp-recycling campaign.

SWANA has joined the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers (ALMR), Calistoga, Calif., and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., to form the Business Lamp Recycling Outreach Program with the goal of increasing the lamp recycling rate from 20 percent to 40 percent during the next two years.

The alliance will work from a $815,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.