A new recycling centre for one of the most toxic items that end up in landfills, fluorescent tube bulbs, is coming to Calgary in 2022. Many businesses struggle to find where to recycle fluorescent bulbs in Calgary.
Envirolight Retrofit and Recycling is a subsidiary of Gasonic Group focused on recycling fluorescent bulbs and retrofitting the fluorescent lights with LED bulbs. Envirolight picks up your business’s bulbs and recycles 99% of the components. Recycling diverts them from ending up in landfills.
Envirolight has been sending the mercury-filled bulbs to a plant in Winnipeg that breaks them down and recycles each component. The operators of that plant have plans to open a location in Calgary that will accept bulbs for recycling later this year.
If your building uses fluorescent tube bulbs, you know what a pain it is to dispose of them properly.
Light bulbs are so fundamental to our lives that they’ve long been symbols of ideas. However, beneath the surface, there has been some controversy about how we light up our world.
In 2012, Canada started to phase out incandescent bulbs, the kind with the filament inside, because of their energy usage.
The first move to replacing these old-fashioned bulbs was with fluorescent bulbs. In-office settings, this means the long tube-style lights. In homes, many people switched to compact fluorescent bulbs, the little spiral ones.
Fluorescent bulbs do indeed draw less energy and last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs. The problem is that they do eventually burn out and need to be replaced. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which is highly toxic. Mercury exposure can damage the brain, spinal cord and other organs.
One tube-style fluorescent bulb can contaminate 5000 litres of water.
Right now, it’s unlawful to send fluorescent bulbs to the landfill, but some people still do. This is a big problem because once the bulbs are in the ground, they can contaminate drinking water. Just one bulb contains enough mercury to contaminate about 20 bathtubs of water.
There is a municipal drop-off place for fluorescent bulbs in most cities, which can work well for households. However, it isn’t practical for businesses that use dozens or even hundreds of long fluorescent tube bulbs because you can only bring in 8 bulbs at a time.
One landfill in Calgary accepts large quantities of fluorescent tube bulbs, but you need a permit to drop them off. Separate from the issue of toxic chemicals in the bulbs, landfill space itself is limited. A bulb recycling plant in Calgary will save local businesses time and money.
The new Envirolight plant could not come at a better time. In 2019, the federal government unveiled its new legislation to limit the amount of mercury-containing bulbs that end up in landfills. It has announced plans to restrict the sale of fluorescent bulbs by 2023.
So what can businesses do?
Call Envirolight today to find out how to get your light bulbs picked up. Learn more about the retrofit process here.
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