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NewsHong Kong

Lights out for old bulbs from next year

Suppliers and retailers are to be asked to stop selling the power-guzzling bulbs; Friends of the Earth disappointed with regressive move

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 8:03am

Plans for a ban on power-eating incandescent light bulbs have been scrapped in favour of a voluntary scheme to phase them out from next year.

The decision was made by environment officials who say a public consultation that closed more than a year ago found no majority public support for a mandatory approach.

Instead, they will ask light bulb suppliers and retailers to sign a charter pledging not to replenish stocks of selected bulbs from the first quarter of next year and stop selling them by the end of the year.

The decision disappointed Friends of the Earth, which says it flies in the face of international trends.

The charter will first cover incandescent light bulbs of 25 watts or above without light-concentrating reflectors. Others may be added after a review.

Officials had proposed legislation to eliminate the bulbs from the market, saying it would be faster and more effective than voluntary measures or market forces. But now they say a legal ban will take three years to introduce, including a one-year grace period, and that is too long, according to a paper submitted to lawmakers by the Environment Bureau yesterday.

Charter signatories will be required to submit sales data to the government quarterly for monitoring and display on a public website. Only if the charter fails will the government reconsider legislation, the paper said.

Traditional light bulbs, sold for a few dollars each, consume more energy than alternatives such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) as 90 per cent of the energy goes to heat rather than light. But CFLs carry more toxic substances like mercury and require far more energy to manufacture.

Friends of the Earth environmental affairs manager Frances Yeung Hoi-shan said she was disappointed by the lack of a ban.

"It is a regressive move, and against the international trend," she said.

Yeung said officials had wasted too much time on the matter and the proposed approach would not encourage more energy-efficient lighting devices.

A spokeswoman in Hong Kong for Philips, one of the largest light-bulb suppliers, said officials had approached the company a few weeks ago but it would not decide whether to join the charter until it had more details.

"If the charter is supported across the industry, we would be happy to join," she said, adding that the company favoured a mandatory ban over the voluntary charter.

In 2011, about 13.5 million incandescent bulbs were sold.


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This article is now closed to comments

CFL and LED lights harm humans and harm the environment. The only thing they are good for is more profit to bulb makers and bulb retailers. CFL and LEDs cost more money and do not save energy.
CFL and LEDs contain harmful toxins: lead, ****nic, and mercury vapour - linked to cancer.
CFL also produce harmful electrical radiation - and should be at least 4 feet from your head.
Both LED and CFL'S have harmful spiky light spectrums.
Incandescents have a healthy light spectrum and contain no toxins, no poisons - they are the ONLY safe lightbulb on the market.
For the sake of your health, your kids health and the environment use incandescent bulbs and remove all CFL and LEDs from your home, work place and schools.
I never knew that CFLs required substantial more energy to produce and only over time takes time to gain back the advantage. I agree with Ianson that there is practically no difference recently in life span. Maybe because CFLs are cheaply mass produced and not of as high quality as before. Like any business it will become who can produce them the cheapest will get the biggest market share. Sometimes you wonder if those in Friends of the earth look at costs to produce so called “environmental solution” like CFLs and “re-usable shopping bags”
While the focus is on bulbs, is it time more data were gathered on the performance of CFLs? They consume far more resources in manufacture which is said to be offset by their low power consumption over time. But that depends on them being "long-life". Are they? They certainly used to be, when they were first released, but it seems they fail almost as quickly as old incandescents now. So have the lighting behemoths been sneaking in programmed obsolescence, just as they did, famously, decades ago with incandescents? If they are, a good part or all of the justification for the changeover is lost and the manufacturers are making a windfall at the expense of our precious Earth.
Try to explain the concepts of "life cycle costs" and "planned obsolescence" to an environmentalist, good luck.


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