Dubai company offers to recyle hazardous light bulbs

The iniative, Lamps4U, aims to safely dispose of compact florescent lights (CFLs), which contain small amounts of poisonous metals that can enter the environment if not properly disposed of.

DUBAI // A company is offering to collect energy-efficient lightbulbs that could pose a risk to the environment if not disposed of properly.

The initiative, Lamps4U, aims to safely dispose of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which contain small amounts of mercury. While the lights are perfectly safe to use, if broken they are a hazard because the toxic metal can escape into the environment.

Mahesh Patel, chief executive officer of Lamps4U, said he started the project after realising that the country lacked proper facilities. At the moment, CFLs are thrown in landfills along with regular household waste.

Mr Patel discovered this as he set up his own lighting business representing Eurolux, a company based in South Africa.

“I started to think about supplier and manufacturer responsibility and I decided to give a cradle-to-cradle solution,” he said.

Mr Patel was keen to differentiate between the two projects, saying the initiative aimed to collect all CFL lights, regardless of the brand.

“I am not promoting it as my lighting business, I am promoting it as a safe disposal programme,” he said.

From July, the sale of incandescent light bulbs will be banned, after directives by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma).

By the end of the year, the traditional filament lights should no longer be available for purchase in the country. Among the efficient technologies that will be allowed instead are halogen bulbs, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and CFLs.

Mr Patel has developed solutions for large waste generators as well as for consumers. For establishments that use a lot of light bulbs, Lamps4U is offering machines that can crush the lights, extracting the mercury in them and separating the glass, plastics and metal waste. Two such machines have already been bought by establishments in Dubai.

Lamps4U also offers specially-designed boxes for the collection of old lights, which Mr Patel is hoping will be adopted in collection schemes by shopping malls, retailers and other public premises. He is also planning to include general consumers by encouraging them to throw their used lightbulbs into specially-designed aluminium bags, which can hold up to four CFL lights.

“This is proven technology,” he said. “Everything is available in Dubai today.”

Mr Patel said that with the project still in its infancy it was hard to predict how many bulbs would be collected. At present, the company is just storing the used lightbulbs at its Dubai warehouse. Soon it will begin reprocessing them in a machine with a capacity of up to eight million bulbs per shift per year.

“The ultimate goal is that we collect all the [CFLs] so no mercury will escape into the environment,” he said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM

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