Environmental Protection Secretary
Kathleen A. McGinty applauded The Home Depot's leadership for announcing today that it will recycle energy-efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs for free at all of its nearly 2,000 stores.
McGinty said having a large, market-leading business like The Home Depot engage on this issue will help spur the wider use of the bulbs, more commonly called CFLs.
"We've been working hard to educate the public on the economic and environmental benefits these bulbs offer, and have partnered with retailers and local governments to make it easier for the public to recycle them," said McGinty. "Having an industry leader like The Home Depot--the nation's second largest retailer--stand up and say, 'We want to do our part and help,' goes a long way."
CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs, considerations that are all the more important as electricity prices in Pennsylvania are set to soar in the coming years.
If every household in Pennsylvania replaced one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL, the combined individual efforts would save up to 248 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, and cut nearly $25.5 million annually on household electric bills.
As the largest retailer of light bulbs in the country, The Home Depot sold more 75 million CFLs in 2007, which saved Americans approximately $4.8 billion in energy costs, according to the company.
McGinty said some consumers have been reluctant to use CFLs because they are not sure how to dispose of them properly or recycling options are limited.
"Having a convenient, safe means to recycle CFLs will encourage more consumers to save energy by switching to high-efficiency lighting," said McGinty. "We believe it should be as easy to recycle a CFL as it is to buy one. Retailers like True Value and Ikea, and now the Home Depot, are helping to make that a reality."
Properly disposing or recycling CFLs is important because the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury. On average, each CFL contains less than 5 milligrams of mercury, which is about enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.
As a comparison, the typical thermostat and thermometer contain 3,000 milligrams and 300 milligrams of mercury, respectively.
No mercury is released when CFL bulbs are intact or in use.
Pennsylvania has aggressively pursued CFL recycling options at the state level. DEP has been in discussions with The Home Depot and other large retailers about creating pilot recycling programs and broader, permanent collections.
This spring, DEP launched a campaign to make it more convenient for the public to recycle the bulbs. The department provided collection receptacles to municipalities, small businesses and community organizations across the state hoping the experience will lead participants to continue with their own programs.
Pennsylvania also reimburses up to half the costs of household hazardous waste collection events, providing a CFL recycling option in most counties. For the coming fiscal year, DEP plans to double its budget for household hazardous waste reimbursements.
The state has also reached out to all electric utilities serving the state seeking CFL recycling options, and DEP will hold talks with bulb manufacturers to request new forms of packaging that could be used to return the bulbs for recycling.
For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Household Hazardous Waste.
Visitors to the Web site can also download a fact sheet on CFLs by pulling down the "Energy Topics" tab on the top navigation bar, clicking on "Energy" and referencing the "What's New" column.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection