Defra proposes reduced lamp recycling target

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has proposed a reduced lamp collection target for 2017, asking for evidence from the industry to support the goal or suggest alternatives.

The suggested target is 6,009 tonnes, 13 per cent lower than the 2016 target of 6,882 tonnes and two per cent lower than the actual tonnage collected last year.

Defra’s targets for all different branches of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) will be finalised at the end of March, with WEEE producer compliance schemes receiving a share of the target once they have been confirmed, based on the market share of the members of each scheme in the prior year.

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).

Figures published last August showed that lamp recycling has almost doubled in the past five years, from 26.0 per cent in 2010 to 43.6 per cent at the end of 2015.

Recolight, the UK’s largest compliance scheme for the lighting industry, recycles almost one lamp a second, and has welcomed the lower target despite the rise in recycling.

Commenting on the proposed target, the not-for-profit scheme’s Chief Executive Nigel Harvey said: “In most WEEE categories, the target increases each year.  However, lamps buck the trend.  Given the material movement in new product sales towards lamp and luminaire LED technologies, it is not surprising that waste lamp collections are reducing. LED lamps currently only account for around one per cent of the total waste lamp tonnage. Accordingly, we think the proposed target is broadly correct.

“We have probably now reached ‘Peak lamp WEEE’. Tonnages collected are likely to decline in future years as the shift from fluorescent to LED luminaires accelerates. This will probably only reverse when LED lamps reach end of life in larger numbers.”

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