Deadline looms for sales of incandescent light bulbs in city

Companies signed up to charter scheme start removing incandescent light bulbs from shelves, but others say legislation is needed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 4:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 6:42am

Suppliers and retailers that signed a government charter to phase out power-hungry incandescent light bulbs will stop stocking and selling them from tomorrow.

The stores set a deadline to phase out the bulbs after the government launched its Energy Saving Charter on "No Incandescent Light Bulbs" as one of two moves to curb the city's electricity consumption in June.

The intention was to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, which have become popular alternatives in recent years.

The scheme was introduced on a voluntary basis after failing to garner enough public support in 2011 to justify its legislation, according to the Environment Bureau. Currently 36 suppliers and 28 retailers have signed up, while another five trade associations and 113 user groups have committed to stop trading in and procuring the bulbs.

Supermarket chain ParknShop, one of the signatories to the scheme, said all incandescent light bulbs would be taken off its shelves from next month.

But Philips, one of the largest light bulb suppliers in Hong Kong, has not signed the charter and believes legislation would be a more effective way to get rid of inefficient lighting devices.

Senior public relations manager Pansy Chan said the company had been pushing for legislation to drive the phasing-out of inefficient lighting.

"We believe legislation [is] more effective in monitoring the market to push forward energy-efficiency," she said. "The incandescent bulb makes up only a minimal share of overall sales. The volume is not increasing."

Local lighting chain PLC said it had not signed the charter and would not stop selling incandescent light bulbs until its current stock ran out, as there was still demand from consumers.

"I guess the government is unable to set a sharp [mandatory] cut-off date for incandescent light bulbs, because some in the industry are still carrying a huge quantity," PLC senior marketing executive Yennis Ng said. She attributed the decline in sales to promotional and educational efforts by the industry, which raised public awareness of the benefits of CFL and LED lighting.

"The CFL and LED technologies are quite advanced nowadays and can readily adapt to different lighting designs … [even if] the government does nothing, [the old light bulbs] will slowly fade out," she said.

According to Environment Bureau figures, total annual sales of incandescent light bulbs dropped from some 20 million in 2008 to 13.5 million in 2011. It said a review would be conducted early next year on the effectiveness of the charter scheme.

The incandescent light bulbs being phased out include the non-reflector type of 25 watts or above, operating with a single-phase electricity supply of 220 volts.

Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, as 90 per cent of the energy they consume is used for heating up the tungsten filament to produce light.



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