Materials

One lamp recycled every second by Recolight as light recycling sector growth continues

One lamp recycled every second by Recolight as light recycling sector growth continues
Lamp recycling has almost doubled in the last five years, according to figures released this summer, with Recolight, the UK’s largest lamp recycling scheme, recycling almost one lamp every second.

Under laws regulating electronic waste, or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), producers of such products have to sign up to recycling schemes to ensure that a certain proportion of the material they make each year is collected and recycled.

Lamp recycling includes LED, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge tubes and bulbs and luminaires (complete lighting units consisting of a lamp and the parts that position, protect or connect the lamps).

Non-profit Recolight offers free recycling for business WEEE lamps and WEEE luminaires across the UK. Since 2011, its producer membership has more than doubled from 73 to 180, with the scheme now operating over 1,750 more collection points (3,086) than at the end of 2010 (1,332). These points have seen over 250 million lamps recycled through the scheme since it was established in 2007, when the regulations were introduced.

 The growth in Recolight and the UK lamp recycling industry in general has contributed to the UK lamp recycling rate rocketing from 26.0 per cent in 2010 to 43.6 per cent at the end of 2015.

Legislation helping the growth of lamp recycling

Explaining the increase in lamp recycling in the UK, Recolight CEO Nigel Harvey said: “Over the last five years, we have seen some very material changes in the WEEE landscape.”

At the beginning of 2014, new WEEE regulations came into force allowing schemes to pay a fee if they don’t meet targets, rather than being held to ‘ransom’ by schemes that have collected a surplus (explained in Resource’s feature from this Spring).

One lamp recycled every second by Recolight as light recycling sector growth continues
“This made the UK WEEE system much fairer,” says Harvey, “and ensured that WEEE charges were reflective of actual treatment costs. 

“Then, in 2015, ‘dual use’ was introduced [which means that any luminaires that could be used by consumers are now out of scope of the WEEE Regulations]. This change also made the UK system fairer, ensuring, in the case of lamps, that all lamp producers now pay their share of recycling costs.”

Harvey added: “The success of Recolight in the last five years can largely be attributed to the great team we have at the company, a very supportive board, and the commitment of our growing Lighting Producer membership.”

Commenting on the economics of lamp recycling in 2016, he said: “The dual use changes have had a particular impact on lamp recycling in 2016.  The effect is that from the beginning of the year, most companies which collect waste lamps should be able to access free lamp recycling. 

“However, at Recolight, we still come across many collectors and aggregators of business waste lamps that are being charged for their recycling.  All too often, they are not aware that under the WEEE regulations, they should be able to access a free recycling service, funded by lamp producers.”

More information about Recolight can be found at the scheme’s website.

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