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RE: [GreenYes] fluorescents vs. computers
Hi Bruce ~

The question you pose is a great one, but not easy to answer.

Mercury is fairly mobile, and if the fluorescents are not recycled, I would
suspect that they would be broken in the solid waste handling process and
the mercury will be emitted to the air. However, the amount of mercury per
lamp is small, typically 10-30 mg per lamp.

On the other hand, the hazardous chemicals in computers (primarily lead in
the CRT and flame-retardant chemicals in the plastics) are fairly immobile,
but large in quantity -- several pounds of lead per CRT in a desktop
computer.

In a European study done in 1997, the environmental cost of mercury
emissions to the environment was set at about 20 times the environmental
cost of lead emissions. The report did not cover the environmental cost of
the flame retardants.

So, no easy answers. 

How much does it cost to recycle the lamps? Are there ways to reduce this
cost?

What other opportunities might be available to implement  P2 efforts?

John Reindl, P.E.
Recycling Manager
Dane County, Wisconsin

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Maine, Bruce [mailto:bmaine@hdrinc.com]
> Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 8:22 PM
> To: GreenYes
> Subject: [GreenYes] fluorescents vs. computers
> 
> 
> Good evening.
> As part of our Sustainable Business Initiative we have been recycling
> fluorescent lamps.  This has been a "good will" gesture since 
> we do not
> generate enough to be regulated.   This costs about $500 a year that
> pretty much depletes the P2 budget.  My question to the list:  
> Do you think it is more appropriate to spend those funds by offering
> cash incentives to employees to recycle personal computers 
> through local
> sources?  I would imagine that it will be easier to quantify 
> P2 numbers
> for stakeholders .
> Please share your thoughts.
> Best,
> Bruce Maine
> Research Director - Sustainable Design Services
> LEED Accredited Professional
> HDR Architecture
> 402.399.1198
> bmaine@hdrinc.com
> http://www.hdrinc.com/sustainable/
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