Group touts HK$200 coupons for energy-saving bulbs

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 March, 2009, 12:00am

Every adult Hong Kong resident should be given a HK$200 coupon to buy fluorescent, energy-saving light bulbs, a public policy group has proposed.

The group also called on the government to enact a law to ban incandescent light bulbs as quickly as possible. Further, it wants a better labelling scheme and an improved recycling system for old bulbs.

In a study on sustainable lighting for Hong Kong, The Professional Commons said more could be done to promote energy-saving light bulbs because they accounted for only an estimated one-fifth of those used.

It said the government could give each adult Hong Kong resident a HK$200 coupon, which should be enough to buy about five energy-saving light bulbs. This would encourage people to move away from traditional incandescent light bulbs, it said.

It estimated that the coupon scheme would cost the government HK$1.1 billion for more than 5 million eligible people and would cut the city's electricity bill by up to HK$3.1 billion. Carbon emissions would be reduced by 2 million tonnes a year.

Other benefits of the scheme would be the creation of an estimated 1,000 jobs, including roles in marketing and transport.

'You won't find an investment in the budget with a return as high as that,' the chairman of the group, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, said.

The coupons could be given out this year and would be valid for two years, Mr Lai said. 'There would be no rush for people to change light bulbs until they burn out,' he said.

Several countries have pledged to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs. The European Union said it would do so by 2012. The mainland had implemented a subsidy scheme to encourage the switch to energy-saving bulbs, the group said.

Apart from the coupons and a new law, the group said the government should improve the collection and recycling of used light bulbs because most fluorescent bulbs released mercury if broken.

It said a cash deposit system could be introduced to encourage the public to recycle used light bulbs. To ensure correct handling, the group suggested that the city's only chemical and hazardous waste treatment centre, in Tsing Yi, be expanded.

The current energy-efficiency labelling system needed to be upgraded to include more information about light bulbs - such as the amount of toxic material they contained and the energy used to produce them - the group said.

The Environment Bureau said it welcomed any initiatives that helped promote the use of fluorescent light bulbs, although it did not say whether it would consider issuing cash coupons for people to buy them.

The department was still studying whether it was necessary to restrict the sale of incandescent light bulbs, it said.

'The studies will cover relevant international practices and an assessment on viable technology to replace incandescent light bulbs. A survey on the local use of incandescent light bulbs will also be conducted,' a spokesman said.

'The bureau will work out what follow-up actions are needed after reviewing the findings.'