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[GreenYes] CFL disposal in MN and other CFL issues

The attached post is from Anne Morse about CFL disposal financing in MN, and may be of interest to some on the list.

I personally have found the HHW drop-off program in our area inconvenient and time consuming, so I don't favor this as the venue for bulb recovery nationally. My concern is that participation rates would be very low, as the larger the cost in time or complexity for people to participate in a program, the smaller the percentage of people who actually will. The MN program in interesting in using utility funding to underwrite proper CFL disposal. Better than nothing, but the utility has little leverage over bulb manufacture. Fees directly on the sale of bulbs, linked to mercury content, would send a better signal to manufacturers to come up with alternative formulations.

There was another posting noting a proposal in Australia to ban incandescent bulbs. Not a great idea in my view. First of all, conservation of energy resources should be encouraged through the proper pricing of electricity, not through bans of specific products that use electricity. Lots of products use more electricity than incandescent lighting per unit of energy services delivered (air conditioning, for example). Are these to be restricted or banned as well? Second, CFLs are not yet a perfect substitute for incandescents -- even ignoring the mercury issue. The light quality is improving, but still not as good as incandescent. The bulbs can't be easily used in certain applications, such as with dimmers, in some outdoor applications, or in small fixtures that require high lumen output.

I've gotten some e-mails about whether a tax on incandescent bulbs should be used to pay for CFL recovery. The problem here is that CFLs are not the only game in town. Cross-subsidizing the problems with CFLs could impede the movement to market of lighting sources that are both efficient and toxics-free. I believe that LED lighting is one such technology, and would be interested in whether anybody on the list knows how close these are to being able to compete with CFLs.

-Doug Koplo

Doug Koplow
Earth Track, Inc.
2067 Massachusetts Avenue - 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02140
Tel: 617/661-4700
Fax: 617/354-0463

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>>> "Anne Morse" <AMorse@no.address> 02/20/07 10:18AM >>>

Could you please post this to greenyes, if you think it helpful in the discussion.
I have not signed up to be able to post, and so the message bounced back.


-----Original Message-----
From: Anne Morse
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:13 AM
To: 'Doug Koplow'; bsteinberg@no.address
Cc: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: Financing CFL disposal in Minnesota

Here's how we finance disposal of household CFL's here in Minnesota:

The state's largest utility, Xcel Energy, is required by the state to spend a significant % of sales on conservation initiatives, termed the Conservation Incentive Program, or CIP. Xcel opts to use CIP money to fund the disposal of fluorescent bulbs in the state through the counties' Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facilities. Here's how it works:

Residents can bring up to 10 CFLs or regular fluorescent bulbs to our HHW facility every year, at any time, at no charge. (Ten is obviously ample to cover household-generated bulbs.) When the county disposes of the fluorescent bulbs through our recycling contractor, Mercury Waste Solutions, Xcel rebates the counties the cost of disposal, and a handling fee to cover our time.

For quantities larger than ten - business quantities - we schedule two collection days per year, when the recycling contractor is on location at our HHW facility. Businesses bring in their bulbs and are charged the cost of disposal by the contractor: $.40 for 4' bulbs, $.45 for CFL's, and $.60 for 8' bulbs.

This procedure has been in place for well over ten years, and everyone appears to be happy with it. Our HHW facility is open 8 - 4:30 M-F, and Saturday mornings in the spring and summer.

There are some areas of the state that served by other utilities that are not as big as Xcel, and thus are not required to expend CIP funds. As a result, coverage is not 100%, but it's darn close.

Anne Morse
Winona County, MN

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