State tries to create CFL recycle plan

June 16, 2008 5:56:00 PM PDT
Everyone is urged to use compact fluorescent light bulbs, but once they burn out, it's hard to get rid of them. Compact fluorescents contain mercury and a state law forbids tossing them out in the trash, like a standard bulb. Despite that law, the state hasn't yet taken responsibility for recycling CFL bulbs.

California consumers are taking to the compact fluorescent bulbs called CFLs. Sales are up and PG&E is even giving away the bulbs for free. They've given away more than a million so far. That helps with reducing energy use, but what about recycling? What are you suppose to do with them?

"Is that a big secret?" said a consumer.

Actually it is not a secret, but the state doesn't have a plan.

Instead, local governments are working with retailers and environmental groups to take back and recycle the bulbs. It's a piecemeal approach, a task force is supposed to take on and change.

Looking to increase the recycling rate, the task force doesn't know how much it will cost to collect and recycle the bulbs.

"We don't know what we have. We're trying to develop the metrics, but we know with the millions sold, the 20 million sold in California in the net five years, these things are going to be coming back," said Robinson.

So the problem is acknowledged, but a solution is not in sight.

The task force is running out of time. It must complete its recommendations to the legislature by September 1st. The legislature may then use those recommendations to implement new CFL recycling standards.

There are two things consumers need to remember. First, throwing the CFLs into the trash or landfills is bad for the environment and is illegal. Second, the state is not a major player on this issue, or at least not yet.

Click on the link below to see where you can recycle CFL's, batteries, and other items.
www.Earth911.org


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