Washington Law Creates Recycling Program for Mercury-Containing Lamps

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation into law that makes Washington the second state in the nation to require producers of mercury-containing lighting products to fund their recycling. Sponsored by state Sen. Craig Pridemore and Rep. Sam Hunt, both Democrats, the law provides a no-cost, statewide recycling program for residents.

“We know providing convenient, free-of-charge recycling locations will result in more mercury bulbs and tubes being recycled,” said Lisa Sepanski, co-chair of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council.
Mercury lighting products, including compact fluorescent lamps and linear fluorescent tubes, save energy but contain toxic mercury, which can be harmful. Beginning in 2013, residents will be able to bring fluorescent lamps and tubes to recycling sites, which may be run by local retailers, recycling centers, governments, and others. There will be no fee for dropping off these lamps.

In the new system, manufacturers will pay for the recycling of the lighting products that their industry creates. This approach, already used in Maine, Canada and by many countries in Europe and Asia, is similar to the Electronics Product Recycling Law, which created the successful “E-Cycle Washington” program for TVs, computers and monitors. E-Cycle collected 38 million pounds of TVs, computers and monitors across the state in its first year of operation in 2009.

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