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UK lamp recycling increases despite fewer lamps collected

The UK’s annual lamp recycling rate for 2017 has increased to 48.5 per cent, up from 47.5 per cent in 2016, according to data released by the Environment Agency yesterday (1 March).

The recycling rate for luminaires (electrical devices used to create artificial light using electric lamps) has also modestly increased, up from 7.1 per cent in 2016, to 7.5 per cent in 2017. The luminaire rate is lower than that for lamps as many are collected along with scrap metal.

The rates recorded by the EA take into account the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) placed on the market, and are calculated by dividing the tonnage of WEEE reported by producer compliance schemes (PCS) by the tonnage of equipment placed on the market by producers in the same year. They do not, therefore, include WEEE that is not covered by producer obligations.

UK lamp recycling increases despite fewer lamps collected

Under laws regulating 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.

The increased recycling rate comes despite a reduced target for 2017, which was set at 6,132 tonnes, down from 6,882 tonnes in 2016, and which was subsequently missed with 5,382 tonnes of lamps collected. This is consistent with the wider WEEE collection figures, which fell well short of the 2017 collection target of 622,033 tonnes, with 522,913 tonnes of WEEE collected.

The reduced lamp collection target was proposed in March last year and reflects the fact that many fluorescent lamps are being phased out and replaced by longer-life LED lamps, meaning the tonnages collected are inevitably lower, prompting Nigel Harvey, CEO of Recolight, the leading UK WEEE compliance scheme for the lighting industry, to state we had reached ‘peak lamp WEEE’.

Commenting on the latest figures, Harvey said: “We are pleased that the lamp recycling rate in 2017 has continued to grow.  The long term trend continues to be positive. In 2012, the rate was 39.5 percent, so a rate of 48.5 per cent five years later is pleasing. Recolight continue to make our free lamp collection service available, and that stimulates and encourages more recycling.”

“The tonnage of LED lamps collected still remains low – at around one per cent. This can be expected to grow in future years, but it will still be more than a decade before LED tonnages are close to the tonnages of fluorescent lamp waste.”

“The luminaire recycling rate has moved up from 7.1 per cent in 2016 to 7.5 per cent in 2017.  An increasing number of Recolight members now request free waste lamp and luminaire collections during multi-site LED luminaire rollouts. Recolight collects the waste lamps, traditional fittings, and batteries that arise.”

You can view the 2017 figures for collected WEEE in the UK on the Environment Agency website.

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