Consumers unable to distinguish between waste lamp types

Twenty per cent of lamps sold in UK ‘non-compliant’ due to online retailMany consumers don’t know how to distinguish between different types of lamp when recycling them as waste, a new survey has found.

The message comes from a study commissioned by EucoLight, the European association for lighting waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) compliance schemes, which found that as well as not being able to identify types of lamp, many consumers don’t know where they should take their waste lighting to be recycled.

The survey was conducted by market research company GfK across Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Romania with the aim of understanding consumer awareness of the different types of lamp available on the market, and how to recycle them when they become waste.

When shown images of the products, respondents to the surveys were often unable to distinguish between energy-saving, LED, incandescent and halogen lamps.

And although the survey was taken across six countries, the findings were very similar in each of them. Between 27 and 42 per cent could identify energy-saving light bulbs correctly, as opposed to the 18-35 per cent who confused them with LED bulbs.

When asked to identify an LED lamp, only between 14 and 23 per cent of respondents classified it correctly, whereas between 31 and 45 per cent thought it was an energy-saving light bulb.

Consumers unable to distinguish between waste lamp types

EucoLight says that the results prove that all types of lamps should be collected together in the same container to avoid the risk of consumer confusion between lamps leading to a decrease in recycling efficiency and a possible decline in the recycling rate.

Reflecting on the results of the survey, Nigel Harvey CEO of UK compliance scheme RecoLight, who is also a Director of EucoLight, said: “These findings mirror the situation in the UK. Most consumers have difficulty in differentiating different lamp types. That is why it is logical for all waste lamps to be collected in the same container.”

Respondents were asking if they knew where they should deposit their lamps for recycling. Spanish and Belgian survey-takers scored the highest, with around 50 per cent correctly saying local authority waste facilities or a recycling centre, and more than 10 per cent suggesting the retail outlet where they purchased their lamps.

The proportion of respondents that said they either didn’t know what to do with their lamps or that they would put them in their residual waste was fairly consistent, with 32 per cent in Portugal, 30 per cent in Italy and 30 per cent in the Netherlands. 78 per cent chose one of the two answers in Romania, while just 17 per cent chose either in both Spain and Belgium.

Consumers unable to distinguish between waste lamp types

Harvey added: “We will continue to advise all our collection partners, both consumer and commercial that LEDs can be placed in the same container as fluorescent lamps. At Recolight we collect all lighting in scope of the WEEE regulations.”

Founded in mid 2015, EucoLight was set up to provide expertise in the field of the collection and recycling of WEEE lighting and promote the positive role of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for WEEE lighting on the environment and society.

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