Washington Imposes Mercury Recycling Fee on CFL Producers

Washington Imposes Mercury Recycling Fee on CFL Producers

CFL - http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulk/ / CC BY 2.0

Under a new Washington state law, companies that make lights that contain mercury will need to pay for recycling programs for their products.

The law goes into effect in 2013, and will require companies that create compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and fluorescent tubes to pay $15,000 a year to fund recycling programs.

The recycling will be run by a stewardship organization chosen by the Department of Ecology. Producers will also be able to receive approval to run their own independent recycling programs.

CFL bulbs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, which are being phased out in the United States, but since CFL bulbs contain mercury, they pose a greater danger to human and environmental health if disposed of improperly.

{related_content}The funds will be used to run free drop-off recycling programs for mercury-containing lighting products, which are banned from being tossed in the garbage or landfills in Washington. The law requires recycling services in every Washington county and at least in every city with more than 10,000 people.

Maine, which already has a similar program in place for CFLs, certain electronics and products like thermostats and auto switches that contain mercury, has passes a law establishing a way for the state to expand its product stewardship rules.

Product stewardship, also referred to as extended producer responsibility, is the concept that makes product manufacturers responsible for the environmental impacts at end-of-life of their products, and typically comes about in the form of funding or creating recycling and disposal programs.

The new Maine law sets up criteria for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to use when assessing other products that could fall under producer responsibility rules, and allows for manufacturers and other to provide input.

CFL - http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulk/ / CC BY 2.0

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