Since 2010 over 40 million lights were collected by LightRecycle™ programs in Canada. That’s 40 million items containing recoverable materials such as glass, metal, or phosphor powder that were kept out of landfills and waterways and were rechannelled into other uses.
So while that one burnt out bulb may seem trivial at first, know that when you recycle it, you contribute to a growing movement that is making a significant positive impact on our environment. When in doubt about whether to recycle your lights or not, just remember: every bulb counts!
How does it work?
Through a network of hundreds of LightRecycle™ certified collection locations in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Washington State, bulbs are collected and transported to authorized processors for recycling.
Depending on the types of bulbs accepted by the LightRecycle™ program in each region, the processor sorts the lights by type and stages them for manual or mechanical processing.
The Life of a Mercury-Containing Bulb
98% of the materials in a mercury-containing bulb can be recycled.
Typically, lights are crushed and separated into their constituent components.
Crushed glass finds new life in such applications as insulation or sandblasting material.
Metal ends from bulbs are absorbed by the metal commodities market and have a wide range of applications.
Mercury-bearing phosphor powder is distilled in order to separate the mercury into its pure elemental form. The mercury is then safely contained by approved storage providers and is directed back into the market, as needed, for use in the lighting, medical and other industry sectors.
Who are we?
In essence, we are a passionate group of environmentally-minded solutions providers who want to help good people, like you, change the world for the better. We do that by making sure that your spent, unwanted or broken lights end up in the recycling stream and not in the trash.
For those of you who prefer their explanations to be a bit more formal…
LightRecycle™ is a family of recycling programs that are operated by ReGeneration (neé Product Care Association), a non-profit industry association, specializing in product stewardship on behalf of the manufacturers, distributors and retailers of products that are regulated under provincial Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws.
Wow, that’s a mouthful!
It breaks down like this:
A province (in our case, BC, Manitoba, Quebec, and PEI) issues regulations around the end-of-life handling of various products produced and sold by industry.
These regulations obligate manufacturers, distributors and retailers to put processes in place to ensure that their products do not end up in landfills and waterways when they have reached the end of life phase.
These regulations are collectively known as EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).
EPR regulations mandate a thorough and complex roster of requirements, including establishing convenient, free-to-use collection networks for consumers and businesses, transportation networks, processing standards, program performance reporting and auditing, program advertising and promotion, and more.
In order to effectively satisfy these requirements, a manufacturer, distributor or retailer of a product regulated under EPR can come to a recognized stewardship organization, like ReGeneration, which will take care of all of the obligations listed above.
ReGeneration develops programs such as LightRecycle™, allowing its members (the manufacturers, distributors and retailers, collectively known as ‘stewards’) to be in compliance with EPR regulations through membership.
Stewards apply an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) to the cost of their products. Stewards remit EHFs to ReGeneration in order to cover all the cost of operating a program like LightRecycle.
In some cases, an EHF may appear on product receipts and invoices. The EHF is not a government tax. It is considered part of the cost of the product and subject to sales taxes. It is at the discretion of the seller of the product to either display or incorporate the recycling fee.
What is EPR?
EPR is an environmental management strategy guided by the principle that whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for minimizing that product’s environmental impact.
Why is EPR important?
By diverting recyclable materials from the landﬁll, we can reduce the need to develop new landﬁll sites. The diverted materials can be reused and we can save the energy needed to produce new products from raw materials.
Many day-to-day products can be harmful when they reach end-of-life; they may be corrosive, toxic, or ﬂammable. Product stewards have committed to recycling their products safely and responsibly. By returning your products to the appropriate collection sites, you can guarantee a safe and responsible recycling process.
Who is responsible for what?
The EPR model is comprised of several stakeholders working together to ensure that products no longer being used by consumers are managed in an environmentally responsible manner.
Typically, the product’s manufacturer, distributor or brand owner takes on the challenge of developing a plan and implementing a program to collect and recycle their products once they reach end-of-life. Producers can also choose to appoint an agency to carry out their duties under the plan. In addition, producers must report on the program’s performance and consider the design of their products, making them easier to recycle.
The provincial regulators develops the legislation and regulations that the product stewards must follow. More speciﬁcally, their role includes approving stewardship plans, monitoring the stewards’ performance and enforcing compliance where necessary.
The local government may provide facilities or operational services for products to be collected or processed. They inform the public of the stewardship program and cooperate with stewards by imposing bans on the landﬁlling of relevant products when appropriate.
Often members of stewardship programs themselves, the retailers may collect recycling fees at the point of purchase on behalf of the producers. They may also provide consumers with information about the existence of the stewardship program, including deposits or recycling fees charged, refunds available and the location of the nearest collection point.
So what’s your role in all of this as a consumer? It’s simply to make sure that your products are brought to the designated collection sites once they reach end-of-life.
What are the principles of EPR?
EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY
Costs are covered by consumers and producers of products and not downloaded to local governments or taxpayers. Often an environmental handling fee is charged at the time of purchase.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
All producers are treated equitably with no cross subsidization of container or product types.
Producers are required to set and achieve positive environmental results. The goal is continuous improvement.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Financial statements are independently audited and publicly available.
All consumers have reasonable access to collection sites.