Green group calls for an eventual ban on use of incandescent lamps

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 March, 2008, 12:00am

Green campaigners have called for an eventual ban on incandescent lamps and more incentives for households to switch to energy- saving light bulbs.

But energy-saving bulbs must be recycled as they contained mercury, which is harmful to man and the environment, Greeners Action said.

'Energy-saving light bulbs are getting more popular,' the group's executive director Angus Ho Hon-wai said.

'In the long run, the government can follow the example of some overseas countries to offer subsidies to households to switch to fluorescent lamps, with the ultimate objective to ban incandescent lamps,' Mr Ho said.

There are plans by the European Union, Australia and Britain, as well as some states in America, to ban the use of incandescent lights.

Mr Ho also said the government had acted too late in promoting the recycling of fluorescent lamps, of which some 3.5 million were sold last year. The Environmental Protection Department launched a recycling programme this month, aiming initially to collect 400,000 used fluorescent lamps a year.

Mr Ho said the target was too conservative.

He urged the government to make it compulsory to recycle fluorescent lamps.

Despite saving power and having a longer operating life, an average compact fluorescent lamp contains about 4mg of mercury. Therefore, fluorescent lights needed proper collection and disposal, Mr Ho said.

The lamps are taken to a chemical waste plant in Tsing Yi for treatment. The mercury is separated and recycled, and the broken lamp pieces are treated before being sent to landfills.

At one of the collection points, East Point City in Tseung Kwan O, some 1,000 bulbs have been collected since the scheme started, according to Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, which manages the shopping centre.

The Environmental Protection Department's programme is the third voluntary scheme in Hong Kong that places responsibility on the originator of the waste, after the rechargeable battery and computer recycling programmes.

Danger in a bulb

Fluorescent lights contain mercury and so need to be properly collected and disposed of

The number of fluorescent lamps sold last year was 3.5m